The founder of Blu Cigs, battery-powered electronic cigarettes that mimic the look and feel of traditional cigs and deliver vaporized nicotine to users, believes he’s discovered an innovation that could help his company compete with R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris.
Jason Healy, president of the Charlotte, North Carolina-based company, and his team have spent about a year developing the “Smart Pack,” a first-of-its-kind e-cig pack which features unique ID technology that detects nearby e-smokers.
Before, e-cig packs were meant simply as a portable charging device for the glowing blue-tip devices. Now, when a fellow user is “vaping” (not smoking) within a 50-foot range, the Smart Pack will notify both parties, potentially prompting a social interaction. What’s more, the company has designed the products for seamless integration with social networks like Facebook and Twitter, essentially making the Smart Pack the Foursquare check-in for the nicotine-addicted consumer.
“Customers were always telling us how social Blu e-cigs were–they’d be in a bar or outside, and someone would see this blue light and what looks like smoke,” says the Australian-born Healy, who before developing the unlikely smokeless cigarettes ran his first business manufacturing basketball gear in China. “Quite often it sparks a conversation–I actually had a doctor who kept emailing me cause it kept getting him laid. So we started to develop the social aspect of it.”
This is all sparking up as public smoking gets slowly extinguished as a social habit. Restaurants and bars around the globe have shooed second-hand fumes to the sidewalk, where cigarette-dependents stand cordoned off from the inside chatter, likely griping about the soaring cost of a pack.
“More and more smokers are becoming lepers,” Healy says. “We’re not just selling electronic cigarettes–we’re selling freedom.”