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This article was published on January 28, 2021

Scientists develop AI-powered ‘puff technology’ to help smokers quit

The onboard computer for e-cigs precisely monitors vaping behavior

Scientists develop AI-powered ‘puff technology’ to help smokers quit Image by: Dede Avez from Pexels
Thomas Macaulay
Story by

Thomas Macaulay

Writer at Neural by TNW Writer at Neural by TNW

Scientists are developing an AI device that helps people quit smoking by predicting when they’ll crave a nicotine hit.

The “Level” system is an onboard computer for e-cigarettes that precisely monitors vaping behavior. It’s designed to help users control their cravings or reduce the amount of nicotine they’re inhaling.

Level will incorporate insights from an observational study launched today by the University of East Anglia.

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The research team has developed a small monitoring device that screws onto tank-based e-cigs. It then measures the number and duration of a user’s vapes, the time between each drag, and the power used per puff.

This data will create a personalized profile of each user’s vaping patterns. These insights will be used to develop the AI behind Level.

[Read: How this company leveraged AI to become the Netflix of Finland]

In the future, the researchers hope the information will also help smokers quit tobacco.

They note that dual-use of e-cigs and tobacco is common. In the US, an estimated 68% of vapers also smoke traditional cigarettes.

Lead researcher Dr Emma Ward said the study would explore how dual-use varies over time, and what factors help or hinder smokers switch to e-cigs:

The new technology we’re using is more reliable and sophisticated than the puff counters which come integrated in many e-cigarettes, and works by precision measurement of the voltage applied to the atomiser through the duration of the puff. It records the puff topography to build a personalized profile of the user’s vaping patterns.”

The 90-day trial will also see participants complete a daily survey about their smoking, vaping, mood, stress, alcohol consumption, and social support.

This information will be analyzed alongside data from the device to understand how psychological, social, and environmental factors influence smoking behavior.

“Our findings will be important to help dual users reduce harm by stopping smoking and inform policy-decisions on how e-cigarettes can be promoted effectively to help people stop smoking and stay stopped,” said Dr Ward.

Smokers in England who want to take part in the study can check their eligibility here.

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