The last lighter you'll ever need
How are those New Year’s resolutions coming? If you’re trying to quit smoking, chances are you’re already struggling — studies show that it often takes many repeated attempts, and most people who relapse will do so during the first month. But maybe technology can help.
Quitbit is an electronic lighter that’s designed to empower reluctant smokers by providing data-driven feedback about their habit. It makes a note every time you use the flameless heating coil to light up, and shares the data by Bluetooth with your smartphone. A screen on the lighter itself displays basic info like progress toward a daily limit or time since the last cigarette, while a more detailed analysis is available in the companion app.
The app can identify the times of day when users are puffing the most, which could help identify trigger factors that make them more likely to smoke. It also reminds them how much money they’re saving by cutting back, and provides community support by connecting them to other users. They can even use the app to put restrictions on the Quitbit itself, so it will simply refuse to heat up at certain times or within a set interval of the last cigarette, and it can scale those restrictions up over time to enforce a customized quitting plan.
Of course there’s no guarantee that this (or any) gadget will make a smoker’s next quit attempt successful, and there’s plenty of evidence that medications and other treatments can help too. But anytime a taken-for-granted habit can be logged automatically and the data made visible to users, it creates the potential for a self-reinforcing cycle that can change behavior in a big way. As it says in Quitbit’s FAQ section: “If you can measure it, you can manage it.”
Quitbit’s founders were motivated by personal desires to quit smoking, and have documented their own use of the device on the company blog. Anecdotally, they claim that early tests helped users cut down their smoking habit by 30 percent in the first month.
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