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Make way for the vaping apps!

At the E-cig summit a few months back, Lynne Dawkins told us that all manner of technological wizardry is on its way in the field of electronic cigarettes. Well, Dr. Dawkins was not fibbing, not by a long shot. Here come the vaping apps.

A French company named Smokio is bringing out a device that calls itself "the first connected electronic cigarette". The vapouriser syncs with your smartphone, the website informs us, and can track all kinds of things of interest to e-cig users. Of course it can do simple things like record your usage and tell you when you need to get more liquid.

It can also tell you how much you've saved by using it instead of toxic cigarettes. It can keep track of significant changes in your health since you switched from coffin nails, things like "blood oxygenation and heart rejuvenation", according to the company website. And of course you use the app to control things like nicotine concentrations, flavour levels, density of vapour, and so forth. Updating is instantaneous, we are told, so that the information displayed on your smart phone is always current.

The device comes in a variety of colors, ranging from metallic and royal blue to coffin-nail white. The company claims that their aim is to make the whole experience "intuitive". They promise us that the design team includes both hardware and software specialists, and the device is Bluetooth-friendly. Despite this plethora of cutting edge technological features, the product is relatively modestly priced at under €100.

And what self-respecting app would eschew a presence on Facebook and Twitter? Yes, Smokio tells us that the app facilitates the sharing of your success on these and other social networking media. There is also a profile on LinkedIn. An online newsletter will be available too.

These features accord very well with the growing tendency of e-cigarettes to become a social club, rather than just a personal habit. Other such social features include the vaping lounges that are popping up all over, assorted activist groups galvanized by the opposition of nanny governments, online forums like this one, and mod development websites and YouTube video clips. All of these elements bringing social cohesion to the e-cig market may serve vapers well when hostile regulators continue to challenge the legitimacy of the product, and when Big Tobacco continues its efforts to take over the market.

The product is out this week on the App Store and next month on Google Play, and there is already a spate of YouTube reviews and other gadget write-ups.

The company was registered in Paris in 2013 by its three young founders, and is now "finalizing a financing round". The new company has advertised for two internships: a business developer and an operations manager.

One wonders how the success of this promising little French start-up will affect the case currently in the French appeals courts, deciding whether the state tobacco monopoly will apply to electronic cigarettes. It's a little difficult to imagine the "Tabac" shop around the corner selling sophisticated electronics. Perhaps someone should develop an app to monitor this development.