R/GA’s prototype studio team built an e-cigarette that sends a tweet out every time you take a drag, reminding your friends about your smoking patterns, and giving you an update on your financial savings and life expectancy via a bluetooth connected phone.

cigarIf you are wondering who would be willingly put themselves into the frontline and share their unhealthy habits, the paradox lies in the use of e-cigarettes in the first place. A recent NYTimes article inspired the project, outlining the motivation and the increased popularity of e-cigarettes.

It was one of scores of electronic cigarette shops that have been springing up by the week in Paris as well as in numerous cities across Europe and the United States. […]

What’s driving her into the store is a desire shared by many: they want to give up smoking tobacco but don’t want to kick the smoking habit. […]

E-cigarette supporters say European officials are having a knee-jerk reaction that fails to recognize the devices as a “safer” alternative to smoking. [via NYTimes]

There are properly multiple reasons to use e-cigarettes:

  1. The desire to smoke in-doors (possible since it’s not tabaco based), but not wanting to actually quit  smoking (even though you like that it’s a bit healthier) 
  2. E-cigarettes are attractive because it offers a healthier entry to smoking
  3. Transition from cigarettes to e-cigarettes during the process of trying to quit smoking, with e-cigarettes just as an intermediate step

The tweeting cigarette is the best fit for category 3, which leads to the question why would an e-cigarette manufacturer invest in a feature that would in the long term reduce their revenue.

But then again, there are always critics to new and noble ideas, and to save a couple of years of your life by trying to quit smoking and having your friends support you by putting pressure on you via social media is certainly one.

The technology itself is Arduino combined with objective-c – and no, not developed in some high-end South-Korean prototype lab, but as a side project at R/GA.


Michael Piccuirro describes the project in the R/GA Techblog. It is the first tweeting e-cigarette (@tweetingciggy), but certainly not the last tweeting appliance. Wouldn’t we all like to see our snowboard tweet the latest downhill speeds, or provide real-time social media updates while riding your citibike and saving the nature? Only time will tell.