Why you should care
Because this gadget might make quitting smoking a little bit fun.
There’s an old saying that goes, “What gets measured gets done.” It’s at the heart of the current tsunami of tech wearables like the Fitbit, Misfit Shine and Nike’s Fuelband. In those cases, what’s being measured is your activity — with the belief that if you know how much activity is required to hit a goal, you’ll do it.
The folks at Angmi, a small startup based in Guangzhou, China, want to use that same principle but in reverse, to curb your smoking habit, with Tosee (pronounced toe-SEE), a smart cigarette holder. Its goal: to help you keep track of how much you smoke. And not only the number of cigarettes but also the amount of poison you’re inhaling, thanks to a custom sensor and an app that runs on an iOS or Android smartphone. “We want to help smokers reduce the number of cigarettes they smoke,” Eason Wu, Angmi’s co-founder and chief operating officer, tells OZY via a translator. Wu believes that if smokers come face to face with the cold, hard numbers associated with their habit — on a daily basis — they will feel a natural desire to reduce the amount they smoke.
Smokers receive congratulatory badges and animations for hitting their reduction goals.
The Tosee app leverages the same principles of gamification that have proved popular with Fitbit users — detailed graphs showing, in Tosee’s case, tar, nicotine and carbon monoxide inhalation. Smokers receive congratulatory badges and animations for hitting their reduction goals. For the smoker who needs something more, a game called Blowing Bubbles attempts to show how the poisons affect lung function. Future plans include enabling the app to connect with social media sites (again mirroring activity trackers) so you can share your progress with friends. Using a tiny embedded battery, the Tosee can run for about “a pack and a half” of cigarettes before needing to be recharged. Whether that means a couple of days or a couple of hours depends on your habit. Because the filter is non-replaceable, a single Tosee has a one-year warranty, but has been designed to last up to two years even with heavy use (up to two packs a day).
But does it work? Wu himself was not able to offer concrete evidence that the Tosee can curb smoking, but said that he knows he needs to demonstrate the device’s efficacy and the company is “on it.” Hmm. Jackie Mascher, a Boston-based psychologist who has experience helping patients kick the habit, says the Tosee “appears to have little to no risk associated with it,” but she’s dubious that the device can deliver on its promise single-handedly. If paired with a professionally developed behavior modification plan, the Tosee could “add enjoyment or value,” Mascher says, but used alone, “it is unlikely to be effective.” Buyers should also be aware that the Tosee has not received FDA approval as a smoking cessation product.
If you’re the kind of person who is effectively motivated by trackers and apps, you can order a Tosee for $59 in dark gray or $69 for a “King Glory” gold version. If not, maybe you should start buying your cigarettes from Australia — turns out ugly photos of people dying of smoking-related illnesses is one of the most effective motivators of all.