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RFID Makes Matches for E-Cigarette Smokers
Transceivers embedded in packs of Blu Cigs electronic cigarettes will alert users when another smoker of the same product comes within about 10 meters.
May 26, 2011—Smokers of Blu Cigs electronic cigarettes already use technology to update an ancient practice. Rather than inhaling the smoke of burning tobacco, they breathe in water vapor that delivers the same dose of nicotine provided by a traditional cigarette. But there is a social aspect to using the company's e-cigarettes. Every time that a Blu pack is opened to retrieve or put away an e-cigarette, a blue LED light on the pack's front is illuminated. According to the company, a blue light shining on the pack is a conversation starter that pleases users. With that in mind, Blu Cigs is adding a new component—RFID—to help its customers connect with each other, as well as start conversations between them. With an active RFID tag in each pack, one pack of Blu Cigs can detect the presence of another from the same manufacturer, and the packs will then light up and vibrate to indicate that someone in the vicinity also uses that brand. The system, expected to be made commercially available in August 2011, is known as BluBand.
A Blu pack holds five cartridges (also known as e-cigarettes), which look much like traditional cigarettes, powered by small batteries charged by a rechargeable battery in the pack itself, causing the blue light to pulsate. About the size of a traditional pack of cigarettes, the Blu pack can be plugged into a wall outlet or a computer to recharge its own battery. Each e-cigarette contains a sensor, a heater and a water-based mixture containing nicotine and other flavoring products (the company also offers a non-nicotine version of the mix), says Ramon Alarcon, Blu Cigs' principal product-development engineer. When an individual sucks on the end of one of the e-cigarettes, its sensor detects that action and activates its heater. As heat is applied to the mix, the e-cigarette produces a mist that provides the physical sensation, appearance and flavor of smoke inhaled from a traditional cigarette.
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