Silicon Valley startup Juul has just released a new e-cigarette that can monitor users’ vaping and track their device. The Juul C1, as the device is known, is now being sold in the United Kingdom after a successful pilot in Canada. It will presumably soon be made available in the United States. The company says the goal of the device is to “empower” customers with information about their nicotine use.
According to reports on the product, the device monitors every puff and where it took place. The C1, which is linked to an app on users’ smartphones, uses Bluetooth to transfer data about the device’s use and location, allowing users to monitor how many puffs they take a day and locate their vape if they lose it. The C1 connects to facial recognition software in order to verify the user’s age. The company is also looking at other features, such as geofencing to prevent usage in public areas like schools.
Juul has come under fire for enabling the adoption of vaping by underage consumers. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, more than 20 percent of high school students have used an e-cigarette, with Juul currently the most popular device on the market. While it is illegal to sell e-cigarettes to anyone under 18 and retailers are required by a Juul policy to ID check anyone who looks younger than 25, the bright colors and sweet flavors of Juul pods has led to accusations that the company is intentionally targeting a young audience.
There are concerns from privacy experts that the data gathering could be used for nefarious purposes. The data obtained from the device could be used to identify users and disclose sensitive information about them. Juul said in a statement that it had “no plans at this time” to sell any data to other organizations. According to the statement, “Usage data will never be shared or sold to third parties without a person’s explicit permission.”