Title:
LIGHTER AND METHOD FOR MONITORING SMOKING BEHAVIOR
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A lighter and a method for monitoring smoking behavior include a lighter having a housing and a lockable lighting element secured to the housing. A smoking reduction plan includes smoking reduction goals specific to the user of the lighter, such as a maximum number of daily cigarettes, and a time interval between cigarette smoking events. The user operates a trigger to activate the lighting element to light a cigarette. When the lighting element is activated for a sufficient duration of time, the lighter records a smoking event. A microprocessor is configured for controlling the operation of the lighting element. When the elapsed time since the most recent smoking event is less than the target smoking interval, or when a user has reached the maximum daily cigarette limit, the microprocessor may optionally render the lighting element inoperable.



Inventors:
Ghofrani, Amir Ata (San Jose, CA, US)
Nakano, Takuji (Reading, MA, US)
Eltorai, Adam (Providence, RI, US)
Application Number:
14/333876
Publication Date:
01/22/2015
Filing Date:
07/17/2014
Assignee:
QUITBIT, INC.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
F23Q2/32
View Patent Images:



Primary Examiner:
FRISBY, KESHA
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
BARLOW, JOSEPHS & HOLMES, LTD. (PROVIDENCE, RI, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A lighter for lighting a user's smokable product, monitoring smoking behavior and promoting smoking cessation and reduction, the lighter comprising: a housing; a lighting element secured to the housing, the lighting element being selectively activated for lighting a user's smokable product; a microprocessor in electrical communication with the lighting element; and the microprocessor being operable to control the lighting element; wherein the microprocessor is further configured to be capable of preventing a user from activating the lighting element to, in turn, light a smokable product therewith.

2. The lighter of claim 1, wherein the smokable product is selected from the group consisting of cigarettes and cigars.

3. The lighter of claim 1, further comprising: a trigger electrically connected to the microprocessor, the trigger selectively activating the lighting element.

4. The lighter of claim 1, wherein the lighting element is selected from the group consisting of an electrical heating coil and a butane fired flame.

5. The lighter of claim 1, further comprising at least one of: a wired computer communication port secured to the housing and in electrical communication with the microprocessor, a power port in electrical communication with the microprocessor, and a wireless computer communications port in electrical communication with the microprocessor.

6. The lighter of claim 6, wherein the wired computer communications port is a USB port and the wireless computer communications port is a Bluetooth interface.

7. The lighter of claim 1, further comprising: a sensor in electrical communication with the microprocessor, the sensor being operable to identify a smoking event when the lighting element is activated for a duration longer in time than a lighting event threshold, the microprocessor being operable to monitor an elapsed time since the smoking event, and the microprocessor being operable to prevent the lighting element from being activated if certain pre-selected programmable conditions are not met.

8. The lighter of claim 7, further comprising: a display secured to the housing and in electrical communication with said microprocessor; and wherein the microprocessor is operable to calculate a remaining time, the remaining time being the difference between the elapsed time and the target interval; the display being operable to show at least one of the remaining time and the elapsed time.

9. The lighter of claim 1, wherein the display is operable to display a set of data relating to a trend of a user's smoking habits over a plurality of consecutive calendar periods, the consecutive calendar periods being selected from at least one of days, weeks, and months.

10. The lighter of claim 1, further comprising: an alarm indicator in electrical communication with the microprocessor, the alarm indicator being selected from the group consisting of a speaker, a motor, and a visual display.

11. The lighter of claim 1, further comprising: a memory component in electrical communication with the processor, the memory component being configured for storing data selected from at least one of: a time corresponding to a smoking event, a date corresponding to a smoking event, a target limit of smokable products to be smoked in a day, a number of smokable products smoked in a day, a time since a most recent smoking event, a time until a next smoking event.

12. A method for monitoring smoking behavior and promoting cessation and reduction of smoking of a smokable product, comprising the steps of: providing a lighter having a housing and a lighting element secured to said housing; providing a computer memory storage component; providing a smoking reduction plan; recording a smoking event; recording smoking event data corresponding to a smoking event, wherein the smoking event data comprises a time stamp that is associated with the smoking event; and storing the smoking event data.

13. The method of claim 12, further comprising the steps of: providing a communication device, which is configured for sending and receiving signals; providing a personal electronic device or web platform; transmitting and receiving data between the communication device and the personal electronic device; providing a software application running on the personal electronic device, or web platform for processing data received from the communication device thereby allowing a user to monitor progress of the user relative to the smoking reduction plan.

14. The method of claim 12, wherein the smokable product is selected from the group consisting of cigarettes and cigars.

15. A method for monitoring smoking behavior and promoting smoking cessation and reduction, comprising the steps of: providing a lighter having a housing and a lighting element secured to said housing; providing a computer memory storage component; providing a smoking reduction plan; recording a smoking event; recording smoking event data, wherein the smoking event data comprises a date and a time that are each associated with the smoking event; storing the smoking event data in the computer memory storage component; and preventing activation of the lighting element when the user deviates from the smoking reduction plan.

16. The method of claim 15, wherein the step of providing a smoking reduction plan further comprises providing a target smoking interval, the target smoking interval being a time between a pair of sequential smoking events and wherein the step of preventing activation of the lighting element further comprises: sensing a smoking event; monitoring an elapsed time since the smoking event; preventing activation of the lighting element when the elapsed time is less than the target smoking interval.

17. The method of claim 15, wherein the step of providing a smoking reduction plan further comprises identifying a maximum daily intake of smoking products and wherein the step of preventing activation of the lighting element further comprises: incrementing a smokable product counter after the step of recording a smoking event; and using the smokable product counter to calculate a number of smokable products smoked in a day; and preventing activation of the lighting element when the number of smokable products smoked in a day is equal to the maximum daily smokable products.

18. The method of claim 15, wherein the step of providing a smoking reduction plan further comprises providing a plurality of smoking reduction plan templates to a user and allowing the user to select a desired smoking reduction plan template from the plurality of smoking reduction plan templates, and allowing the user to optionally modify the desired smoking reduction plan template.

19. The method of claim 15, further comprising the steps of: providing a display secured to said housing; showing a message on the display when the user complies or deviates with the smoking reduction plan.

20. The method of claim 15, further comprising the steps of: providing a communication device, which is configured for sending and receiving signals; providing a personal electronic device or web platform; transmitting and receiving data between the communication device and the personal electronic device; providing a software application running on the personal electronic device, or web platform for processing data received from the communication device thereby allowing a user to monitor progress of the user relative to the smoking reduction plan.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

This application is related to and claims priority to earlier filed U.S. provisional patent application 61/958,009, filed Jul. 18, 2013, the entire contents thereof is incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates to lighters for cigars, cigarettes, and other similar products. More specifically, the present invention relates to a device and method for enabling a user to follow a smoking plan, such as a plan for the reduction of the amount of smoking by the user.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The instant invention provides a lighter that allows a user to light a cigarette, monitor the user's smoking behavior, compare the user's behavior to a smoking reduction plan, notify the user of the user's progress, and prevent the user from activating the lighter to light a cigarette when the user deviates from the smoking reduction plan.

Generally, a smoking event is an instance in which a user smokes a smokable product, such as cigarette or a cigar, for example. The present invention is related to the smoking of any type of smokable product and can be used in connection with smoking any of such smokable products. The present invention has particular application in use with the smoking of cigarettes. For ease of discussion and illustration, the present invention will be shown in connection with the use of the smoking of cigarettes but is not intended in any way to be limited thereto.

By way of background, a user who lights ten cigarettes in a day would have ten smoking events in that day. The user's smoking behavior consists of smoking events that can be tallied on an hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, or annual basis. Over the course of time, a user's smoking habits may vary by hour, day, etc.

The present invention facilitates limitation and reduction of smoking events, thereby helping them reduce or stop smoking completely. A user can seek to modify these smoking habits by using the lighter and method of the present invention to set aspirational goals and fixed limits. The limits may include a maximum number of smoking events per day, week etc. The limits may also include a target smoking interval, which is a fixed amount of time between smoking events, 3rd party authorizations, delay on lighting, and location based limitations.

While the description herein refers to a lighter for a cigarette, the lighter of the present invention can be used for a cigarette, a cigar, or another similar smokable product that a user would use with the assistance of a lighter. The lighter and method of the present invention are particularly useful with habit-forming smoking products, because the present invention helps a user achieve the user's goals of smoking reduction or cessation.

In general, the lighter of the present invention has a housing or main body that supports a lighting element. When the user is ready to smoke a cigarette, the user engages a trigger to activate the lighting element. In the exemplary embodiment, the trigger is a slider or button secured to the housing and electrically connected to a microprocessor, which is connected to the lighting element. The microprocessor can control the lighting element. To support a user's goals of smoking reduction or cessation, the microprocessor can automatically prevent the user from activating the lighting element, as discussed in more detail below.

The lighter and method of the present invention allow a user to set goals for smoking reduction, to automatically keep track of the user's smoking patterns, to encourage the user to continue to follow the smoking reduction plan, to prevent the user from smoking too many cigarettes in a given time period, gain 3rd party authorization, smoke in certain locations, and to force a user to wait a certain amount of time between smoking two cigarettes.

To allow the lighter to connect to a peripheral device, the preferred embodiment of the lighter includes a USB port and/or a Bluetooth port secured to the housing and in electrical communication with the microprocessor. This enables the lighter of the present invention to communicate with another computer device in a wired or wireless fashion. To allow a user to recharge the lighter, a power port is secured to the housing and in electrical communication with the microprocessor and/or battery. The battery is secured to the housing and allows the lighter to be carried in the user's pocket. The battery powers all of the components on the lighter by either direct or indirect electrical connection from the battery to the respective component.

The lighter monitors the user's smoking behavior by sensing the activation of the lighting element and then storage that event as data in a computer storage device in the lighter. For this purpose, a sensor is secured to the housing and is in electrical communication with the microprocessor. The sensor is operable to identify a smoking event when the lighting element is activated for a duration of time that is longer than a set lighting event threshold or a certain amount of time has passed between smoking events.

Once a smoking event has been identified by the sensor, the microprocessor records a time stamp and performs calculations such as; monitors the amount of time elapsed since that smoking event. The microprocessor will then prevent the lighting element from being activated until the elapsed time has reached a target smoking interval set by the user. This forces the user to space out smoking events.

The lighter preferably has a display secured to the housing for communicating information to the user. The display shows a trend of the user's smoking habits of a period of days, weeks, months, and the like. The display can show the elapsed time since the last smoking event, the target interval, the remaining time until the next permissible smoking event, the number of cigarettes smoked in a given period, the money saved from the user's actual smoking reduction performance compared to their previous smoking habits, and other information.

An alert device is secured to the housing and electrically connected to the microprocessor for notifying the user of information associated with the smoking reduction plan and the user's respective performance. The alert device can be a speaker, a motor that causes the housing to vibrate, a visual alarm, or any other type of alarm.

A memory data storage component is secured within the housing and is connected to the microprocessor. The memory component is capable of storing data related to smoking events and smoking reduction performance of the user.

The present invention also provides a method of monitoring a user's smoking behavior. The method preferably enforces personalized smoking reduction goals that are identified by a user.

The method generally employs a lighter such as the one described above. The user selects or defines a smoking reduction plan. The lighter records a smoking event, along with smoking event data such as the date and time of the smoking event. This may be carried out by a UNIX timestamp or other method known in the art. The smoking event data is stored in the memory component, and can be transmitted to another electronic device, such as a cell phone, computer, or a cloud storage service. Smoking behavior is monitored, and the lighting element will not activate, if desired by the user, when the user deviates from the smoking reduction plan, for example, as discussed above.

The lighter can be provided with a set of smoking reduction plan templates from which the user can select a plan that is most suitable to the user. Then the user can modify that plan to more closely suit the user's current habits and desired goals.

The method preferably includes motivational statements that are displayed to the user when the user achieves goals, is in compliance, or deviates with the smoking reduction plan.

Accordingly, among the objects of the instant invention are: the provision of a lighter and a method for monitoring a user's smoking behavior; the provision of a lighter and a method for enforcing a user's smoking reduction goals; the provision of a lighter and a method that will not allow a user to operate the lighter to light a cigarette when the user has not met certain conditions of the smoking reduction plan; and a lighter and a method that motivate a user to achieve the user's smoking reduction goals. Other objects, features and advantages of the invention shall become apparent as the description thereof proceeds when considered in connection with the accompanying illustrative drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The novel features that are characteristic of the present invention are set forth in the appended claims. However, the invention's preferred embodiments, together with further objects and attendant advantages, will be best understood by reference to the following detailed description taken in connection with the accompanying Figures in which:

FIG. 1 is a side perspective view of the preferred embodiment of the lighter of the present invention, with the hinged protective lid in an open position;

FIG. 2 is a front perspective view thereof;

FIG. 3 is perspective view thereof, with the hinged lid in a closed position;

FIG. 4A is a example view of the display of the lighter housing, displaying a first set of information;

FIG. 4B is another view thereof, displaying a second set of information;

FIG. 4C is another view thereof, displaying a third set of information;

FIG. 4D is another view thereof, displaying a fourth set of information;

FIG. 5 is a view of a mobile device operating an application for viewing data related to the lighter and a user's smoking reduction plan received from the lighter of the present invention;

FIG. 6 is another screenshot thereof;

FIG. 7 is another view thereof;

FIG. 8 is another view thereof;

FIG. 9 is another screenshot thereof;

FIG. 10A, 10B and 10C show a flowchart of a preferred embodiment of the method according to the present invention; and

FIG. 11 is a block diagram of the electrical components of a preferred embodiment of the lighter of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

Referring now to the drawings, the lighter of the instant invention is illustrated and generally indicated at 10 in FIGS. 1-11. As will hereinafter be more fully described, the lighter 10 provides a housing or a main body 11 that supports a lighting element 16 for lighting a cigarette (not shown). If desired by the user, operation of the lighting element 16 can be automatically prevented when the user deviates from defined goals within a smoking reduction plan or a smoking cessation plan. The goals can be user-defined or pre-defined from a plan template.

The lighter 10 and method of the present invention facilitates a user's adherence to a smoking reduction or cessation plan. The lighter 10 and method identify each time the user uses the lighter 10 to light a cigarette, tracks and records the user's smoking behavior, and helps prevents the user from deviating from the smoking reduction or cessation plan.

The rechargeable, flameless lighter 10 includes an embedded microprocessor 200 and storage component 202, shown in FIG. 11, to track and record smoking behavior. It should be understood that any type of lighting device can be used to light a smokable product in accordance with the present invention. For example, a butane lighting element can be used instead of a flameless lighter with the components of the lighter modified accordingly. The electronic components within the housing 11 store and run a software application in an onboard software operating system that allows the microprocessor 200 to monitor operation of the lighting element 16, control operation of the lighting element 16, and compare smoking behavior of the user with the desired smoking behavior defined in a smoking reduction plan. It should be understood that the lighter 10 of the present invention is a mobile computing device that also includes a lighter element 16 that enables it to light or ignite smokable products for smoking thereof by a user. The lighter 10 includes all of the components of mobile computing device, which would be well known by a person of skill in the art. For example, the lighter includes computer storage 202, which may be in the form of solid state RAM, optical disk, hard disk, and the like. The lighter 10 includes its own operating system in which executes code to carry out the method of the present invention. A power source 208, such as a rechargeable battery 208, is also used to provide power for the device 10.

The lighter 10 has a visual display 22 on its front surface to give real-time feedback on smoking behavior, including the number of cigarettes a user has smoked in a day, the number of cigarettes the user is permitted to smoke per day, and the time remaining until the user can smoke the next cigarette.

While all of the components of such a mobile computing device are not discussed in detail herein, a person of ordinary skill in the art would understand such components. In sum, the lighter 10 of the present invention includes all of the components and features of a mobile computing device in order to carry out the method of the present invention.

In the preferred embodiment, the lighter 10 includes a trigger switch 19, such as in the form of a button, as shown, to activate a heating coil element. Any other type of actuation element, such as a slider or switch, may be used instead to suit the type of lighting element used. The lighter 10 can be operated to notify a user to have cigarette at a designated time through the use of and alert device, such as a noise indicator, motor vibration, and/or visual indicator. The data recorded on the lighter 10 can be synced to a computer, tablet, or smartphone through USB, power port or Bluetooth for monitoring of longer-term smoking behavior on a proprietary, standalone backend website and/or smartphone application. The transmission, reception and syncing of data between two computing devices is so well known in the art it need not be discussed in detail herein.

The exemplary embodiment of the lighter 10 of the present invention is shown in FIGS. 1-3. The housing 11 of the lighter 10 has a base portion 12 and a lid portion 14 connected by a hinge 13. A lighting element 16 is secured to the base portion 12, and is seated in a cavity defined by an aperture 17 in the base portion 12. The lighting element 16 is covered by the lid portion 14 when the lid portion 14 is in the closed position, as shown in FIG. 3. The housing 11 is dimensioned and configured to be comfortably held in a user's hand, and can be carried in a user's pocket or purse. This lighter 10 configuration is shown as an example, as it can be sized and configured in many different ways within the scope of the present invention.

The lighter is preferably powered by a rechargeable battery 208, for example by a lithium polymer battery. In some embodiments, a user can connect a cable (not shown) from a power source (not shown) to the device to recharge the battery. Alternatively, the battery 208 may be replaceable after it runs out. The lighter 10 can also be connected to other devices. FIG. 3 shows that the lighter 10 has a computer peripheral communication connection port 24 on the base portion 12 of the housing 11. The computer peripheral communication connection port 24 of FIG. 3 is preferably a micro USB port 24 that allows the user to insert a micro USB cable (not shown) into the base portion 12 of the housing so that it is in electrical communication with the internal electronics of the lighter 10. The peripheral connection port 24 can be configured for engaging a micro USB cable, a power cable, or another electrical cable. Ports of any size or configuration can be used, such as a full USB port, without departing from the scope of the present invention. Also, different ports with different communication protocols can be employed instead, such as Firewire, Thunderbolt or Lightning.

The lighting element 16 is preferably a heating coil element but can be any type of element that can be used to ignite a smokable device yet the activation of which can be controlled by the microprocessor 200. The heating coil 16 is preferably a resistance coil made of nichrome wire. When sufficient current passes through the heating coil, it heats to a temperature that can light a cigarette when the heating coil contacts the cigarette.

When a user is ready to light a cigarette, the user moves the lid to the open position, engages a trigger 19, which can be a button or a sliding switch. The trigger 19 then sends a signal through a microprocessor 200 to the lighting element 16, causing an electric current to flow through the lighting element 16. The user then brings the lighting element 16 into contact with a cigarette to light it. As described below, the microprocessor 200 can prevent the user from activating the lighting element 16 when the user deviates from the smoking reduction plan. In that case, the microprocessor 200 denies electrical flow to the heating coil so it cannot be used to light a cigarette.

When the trigger 19 is a sliding switch, the user slides the switch 19 up and holds it there to activate the lighting element 16. The slider 19 slides off automatically after use.

In some embodiments, the lighter 10 includes electronic debounce protection in order to prevent recording multiple events and from unintended lighting events. In some embodiments, the lighter 10 may include a safety lock button that can be pushed down to lock the lighter actuator (such as a button, switch or slider) in place.

A sensor is secured to the housing 11 and is in electrical communication with the microprocessor 200. The sensor 210 identifies a smoking event when the lighting element is activated for a time duration that exceeds a lighting event threshold. The lighting event threshold is preferably in the range of 1 to 4 seconds, and more preferably between 1.5 and 2.5 seconds. In the exemplary embodiment, the threshold is 2 seconds. At durations less than the threshold, a smoking event is not recorded, ensuring accurate data collection. If the heating coil 16 is reactivated within a short period of time (e.g. within three minutes) after the initial lighting event, the event is preferably not counted as an additional smoking event, because the smoker is likely attempting to relight their own cigarette or sharing the lighter 10 with other smokers. Thus, such an event is not indicative of a true smoking event and, therefore, should not be counted as such.

The lighter records information about each smoking event that is identified by the sensor 210. Data corresponding to smoking events and the user's smoking reduction plan can be stored in memory 202 on a computer readable storage medium, as described above. The memory component 202 is in electrical communication with the processor 200. Recorded information includes, for example, a time corresponding to a smoking event, a date corresponding to a smoking event, a target limit of cigarettes to be smoked in a day, a number of cigarettes smoked in a day, a time since a most recent smoking event, and a time until a next smoking event. Location data regarding the smoking event is preferably stored in a smartphone application itself or within memory 202 in the lighter device. Additionally, the memory 202 counts the number of smoking events in a day, in a week, in a month, etc. Each time the sensor identifies a new smoking event, these counts are increased accordingly by an increment of 1.

The base portion 12 has a front surface 18 that can provide information to a user, including the stored smoking event data, and other information. A display 20 extends over at least a portion of the front surface 18. The user can read information 22 shown on the display 20 of the front surface 18. For example, in FIG. 1, the display 20 shows a user that the user has lit 18 cigarettes with the lighter 10 in the current day.

The display 22 can be in the form of a bitmap LCD display, OLED, array of LEDs, color coordinated lights, electronic ink, or other display formats.

An alert device on or in the housing can notify the user of information, and is preferably a speaker, a motor, or a visual alarm. For example, the display 22 provides information to the user, such as a light indicator showing charging status of the battery 208 via a charging circuit 212 (shown in FIG. 11), real time feedback on the user's smoking behavior, the number of cigarettes smoked in a period of time (day, week, month, year, etc.). The alert device of the lighter 10 can also notify the user that sufficient time has elapsed since the last user's cigarette, so the user can smoke another cigarette. Thus, the lighter 10 may notify the user to have cigarette or notify the user that a goal has been achieved, through the use of a noise indicator, a motor vibration, and/or a visual indicator. A visual alarm can be incorporated into the display 22. The lighter 10 preferably includes a single button to control all aspects of the lighter, such as to actuate the heating element and change the notification method from among silent, vibrate, and noise settings, for example. Also, when the top cap is opened, the heating element is preferably activated and when the top cap is closed, the lighter may cycle through its data, pair with a smartphone or other device and carry our other operations.

FIG. 2 shows that the lid portion 14 has a front lid surface 14A and a rear lid surface 14B, which extend on opposite sides of the upper end of the base portion 12 to protect the lighting element 16 when the lid is in the closed position, as shown in FIG. 3.

FIG. 3 shows the lighter 10 when the display is in an inactive state, so that it is not displaying information to a user. This is useful in a power-save mode, when the user is not using the lighter 10. The display 20 is preferably indistinguishable from the rest of the front surface 18 when the display is in an inactive state although it can be modified, as desired.

Once a smoking event has been identified, the event is recorded in the memory/storage device 202 and the microprocessor 200 monitors the time elapsed since the smoking event. If optionally set by a user, when the elapsed time is less than a target smoking interval, the microprocessor 200 prevents a user from activating the lighting element by preventing electricity to flow to heating element 17. The microprocessor 200 can also calculate the time remaining until the user can smoke another cigarette by subtracting the elapsed time from the target interval. The display 20 can also show a set of data relating to a trend of a user's smoking habits over a plurality of consecutive calendar periods, (days, weeks, months, years, etc.). This information can be provided to the user through the display 20 on the front surface of the lighter 10. These screens can be scrolled through by the user manually or automatically by the lighter 10.

In FIGS. 4A-4D, information 22 is provided in the form of letters, numbers, and symbols. In FIG. 4A, the display 20 shows the number of cigarettes a user has smoked 30, preferably next to a cigarette icon 32. A battery icon 34 is positioned next to a percentage value showing remaining battery power 36. In FIG. 4B, a message 38 above the number of cigarettes 30 informs the user that insufficient time has passed since the user last lit a cigarette, so it is “Too soon” for the user to light another cigarette.

FIG. 4C provides a message to the user regarding a first amount of time that has passed since the last cigarette 40, and a second amount of time that has passed since the user's second most recent cigarette 42.

FIG. 4D displays the actual number of cigarettes the user has smoked in the current day 30, and the user's daily cigarette goal for the current day 44. The user can see that “Today's Goal: 28” is still greater than the eight cigarettes smoked today, so the user has not yet reached his or her daily limit.

When the user is in compliance with the smoking reduction plan, and when the user meets goals defined in the plan, the display 22 shows motivational statements to encourage the user to continue to follow the reduction plan.

The content of the messages and the aesthetic appearance of the numbers and icons on the display 22 are customizable to suit the user's preferences.

The lighter 10 collects information about user smoking behavior and can transmit it to a peripheral device 100 (such as a smartphone, computer, tablet, or other personal electronic device), where the user can display the data, select a smoking reduction plan, and analyze the user's success regarding smoking behavior modification. For this purpose, the housing 11 also supports a communication device 206 that can send and receive signals. The peripheral device can also be used to program the lighter and set all of the parameters, as discussed above.

FIG. 5 shows a peripheral device 100 being a phone with a display 110. Here, the display shows a sample “Settings” screen, from which the user can control the user's smoking behavior modification plan. FIG. 6 shows a screen on which the user can set the user's daily cigarette limit 112.

FIG. 7 shows a sample chart that helps communicate the user's performance. A graph shows the time elapsed 114 since the user's last cigarette, and other statistics 116, such as the number of cigarettes smoked today and the number of dollars the user has saved today by reducing cigarette use. The smoking frequency spider graph 118 of FIG. 8 shows the user's smoking habits by time of day, while the daily smoking bar chart 120 shows the user's daily smoking performance over the past seven days, past month, or past three months.

When the user has reached performance milestones, the application displays a milestone notification 122. In FIG. 9, the user is notified that the user's smoking reduction has resulted in savings of $100 by buying fewer cigarettes. It should be understood that any of such notifications can be used to provide additional encouragement to the user.

Turning now to FIGS. 10A, 10B and 10C, a flowchart describing the preferred embodiment of the lighter 10 and method of the present invention. Due to size, the flowchart is broken up into three sections, 300a, 300b and 300c.

Referring first to FIG. 10A and flowchart portion A 303 of flowchart 300a, the process is outlined below:

1. Start (301)

2. User connects lighter to electronic device to configure lighter (302)

3. User can optionally set plans or use device to gather information

4. Did user set plan? (304)

    • a. Yes: continue to next step 306
    • b. No, continue to step 305:
      • Lighter operates without limiting usage
      • Lighter records timestamp of each smoking event
      • Location of smoking event can be recorded
      • The display may show information such as time since last, daily count, battery life, motivational messages
      • Data can sync, transmitted, publicized. Trends can be calculated.

5. In step 306, the user uses lighter sets plan, including at least one of the following: max smoking events per day or duration; time between smoking events; target smoking reduction by certain date; 3rd person authorization; time delay; location restriction.

6. Restrictions are transferred and stored to lighter (307)

7. At 308, did device trigger a notification message/vibration/app message?

    • a. Yes: Notify user (309)
    • b. No: Return to check for notification

8. When ready to use lighter (310), user deactivates safety, if necessary

9. Information is displayed, if needed (311)

10. User operates a switch (312) to activate the lighting element (e.g. using a slider or button)

11. Is the battery voltage too low for operating heating element (313)?

    • a. Yes: Record error (316), display message (317), Return to beginning at A (303)
    • b. No: Continue to next step at B (314)

The process for B Section 314 of flowchart portion 300b in FIG. 10B is discussed in detail below:

12. Decision

    • a. Did user set lighting delays (319)?
      • i. Yes: Add delay to allow lighting event after time has elapsed (322).
      • ii. No: Continue to next step 320
    • b. Did user set time spacing requirements?
      • i. Yes: Has insufficient time elapsed since last smoking event? Or has the user not waited the added delay period?
        • (a) Yes: flag insufficient time elapsed flag and do not light
        • (b) No: Continue to next decision
      • ii. No: continue to next decision
    • c. Did user set max smoking events per specified duration either manually or through reduction plan (321)?
      • i. Yes: Has user exceeded max smoking events per set duration? (e.g. has the user smoked more than the allowed per day (since midnight) or allowed per time period (e.g. 5 cigarettes in a 5 hour period)
        • (a) Yes: flag max smoking events exceeded flag and continue to next decision
        • (b) No: Continue to next step
      • ii. No: Continue to next step
    • d. Did user set any settings that require a connection to the remote device? (e.g. location bans or 3rd party authorization) (323)
      • i. Yes: Did user set location based safe zones?
        • (a) Yes: Users phone present? (325)
          • 1. Yes: Transfer GPS location data (326)
          • a. Is user in a restricted location? (328)
          • i. Yes: flag restricted location flag and continue to next decision
          • p10 ii. No: Continue to next decision
          • 2. No: flag no phone present flag and continue to next step
        • (b) No: continue to next decision
      • ii. Did user set 3rd party authorization? (327)
        • (a) Yes: Is users phone present?
          • 1. Yes: Request 3rd party authorization through app
          • a. Did user get denied authorization? (330)
          • i. Yes: flag authorization denied flag and continue to next decision
          • ii. No: Continue to next decision
          • 2. No: flag no phone present flag and continue to next decision
        • (b) No: Continue to next decision
      • iii. No: Continue to next decision
    • e. Is the user permitted to smoke? i.e. Did user receive any flags? (331)
      • i. Yes: Notify user of error through device or remote device using one of the following: display, vibration, beep, notification (332), manual override (333), if no manual override, proceed to A 303 in FIG. 10A.

If smoking is allowed, the user can proceed to C 336 in FIG. 10C corresponding to section 300C of the flowchart, as outlined below:

    • 2. Are lighting limits disabled?
    • a. Yes: Allow smoking (337)
    • b. No: Do not allow smoking
    • (a) No: continue to next decision
      • ii. No: Continue to next decision
    • f. Enable Lighter (339)
      • ii. Is user still operating switch to activate the lighting element? (340)
        • (a) Yes: The lighting element is activated (339)
        • (b) No: The lighting element is not activated (342)
      • iii. Has is lighting event met the criteria to be considered smoking event? (343)
        • (a) Yes: Apps records smoking event, associate smoking event with date, time, location (unless information was unavailable or it is considered part of the same smoking event as the last time the lighting element was activated); store data for smoking event in memory (344)
        • (b) No: Apps records attempted smoking event, associate smoking event with date, time, location (unless information was unavailable or it is considered part of the same smoking event as the last time the lighting element was activated); store data for smoking event in memory (345)
    • g. App or lighter generates messages, such as motivational messages, based on user achievements, displays them on device or on the personal electronic device. (346)
    • h. User can request a display of information such as statistics, charts, time since last smoking event, daily count (347)
    • i. Optional output of data to at least one of: a personal electronic device (348)
    • j. If desired time has time between smoking events has elapsed since last smoking event, application notifies user that it is time to smoke.
    • k. Return to beginning

The present invention also provides a method of using the lighter 10 to monitor and control a user's smoking behavior. The method includes the steps of providing a lighter 10, such as the one described herein, providing a smoking reduction plan or directing the user to define a smoking reduction plan, sensing a smoking event and storing the smoking event in memory, recording smoking event data such as time and date, and preventing activation of the lighting element 16 of the lighter 10 when the user deviates from the smoking reduction plan (e.g. has smoked too many cigarettes in that day, or has not waited enough time since smoking the most recent cigarette).

When defining the personalized smoking reduction plan, the user can set choose one or some combination of the following; a desired smoking interval, which is a minimum time that must elapse between a pair of sequential smoking events, a specific location to limit smoking, certain 3rd party verification, or goal cigarettes at a specified end date. This allows the user to adjust the rate at which the number of daily cigarettes tapers off. For example, a user smoking ten cigarettes per day may want to smoke only five cigarettes per day by the end of five weeks from today. The program can allow the user to smoke nine cigarettes daily in the first week, eight daily in the second week, seven daily in the third week, six daily in the fourth week, and five daily in the fifth week.

Alternatively, the user can define the smoking reduction plan to have a more gradual or a more sudden transition between the current smoking behavior and the desired smoking behavior. Preferably, the application provides the user with smoking reduction plan templates, which the user can adjust to match personal goals. This reduces setup time for the user, and preferably makes the lighter usable immediately when the user first turns the lighter 10 on after purchase.

FIG. 11 shows a block diagram of the preferred embodiment of the lighter 10. The components of the lighter 10 are secured in and to the housing 11 and are electrically connected to each other through the processor 200. In other embodiments, at least some of the components are connected directly to other components, rather than being connected through the processor 200.

The data recorded on the lighter 10 can be synced to a separate device through USB 204, such as via a mini USB connector or wireless Bluetooth at 206 for monitoring of longer-term smoking behavior on a proprietary, standalone backend website. The backend, proprietary, standalone website preferably stores the lighter user's smoking history, including date and time of each cigarette. Alternatively, this data may be stored in the user's connected smartphone. The smoker's history data and statistics can be analyzed and further guide the smoker to better achieve their desired smoking habits. The backend website can be used to program the lighter 10. The smoker can set the lighter 10 to direct the smoker when to smoke at certain times during the day. The backend website is modifiable to include programmable custom reduction strategies and daily weekly and monthly smoking targets. The data on the backend website can be shared with and modified by other designated individuals, such as via known social media channels. The backend website can be linked to an online backup portal and community gathering (e.g., smoking cessation support group). The lighter 10 may be linked to a smartphone application. The smartphone application can link the lighter to the user's online profile, on the backend website. The smartphone application can link the lighter 10 to the user's smartphone to update user data.

In some embodiments, the user can add or remove smoking events to the user's data stored through the application on the personal electronic device, or web application 100. For example, if a user misplaces the lighter 10, he or she may use a different lighter 10 to light a cigarette. Then the user can input a smoking event entry through the application on the personal electronic device 100, to ensure that the application counts each of the user's smoking events.

The smartphone application 110 may be used to find a misplaced lighter 10 in the case it is lost. For example, a feature in the user's smartphone application may be pressed for emitting a signal receivable by the lighter so that the lighter will beep to assist the user in finding the lighter 10.

If desired by the user, the smartphone application 110 may also be configured to prevent operation of the lighter 10 when the lighter 10 is not in the presence of the phone. In this embodiment, the lighter 10 has an electronic lock on the lighting element that allows the lighting element to be activated only when the phone is in close proximity (e.g. about three feet) of the lighter 10, or was recently in close proximity of the lighter 10.

To measure physical activity of the user, the lighter 10 may optionally monitor the number of steps taken by the user during a time period, using an optional accelerometer that is built into the device itself.

It can therefore be seen that the lighter 10 of the present invention provides a device and a method for monitoring smoking behavior that allows for better control of one's smoking For these reasons, the instant invention is believed to represent a significant advancement in the art, which has substantial commercial merit.

While there is shown and described herein certain specific structure embodying the invention, it will be manifest to those skilled in the art that various modifications and rearrangements of the parts may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the underlying inventive concept and that the same is not limited to the particular forms herein shown and described except insofar as indicated by the scope of the appended claims.