New Smartphone App With Sensor Technology Developed for Smoking Cessation


A man quits smoking cigarettes. Researchers have tested an alert system app to detect if the person is smoking based on movements. / Photo by: marcbruxelle via 123RF


Quitting smoking remains one of the hardest habits that are hard to break, the reason several treatments have been developed to combat this specific form of addiction. This includes nicotine replacement therapy and psychological intervention. You can now add to this list wearable technology.

At Case Western Reserve University, researchers are testing a mobile alert system that is based on a smartphone app and involves a pair of armband sensors that detect a person’s arm and body movement of “lighting up” a cigarette. Once it does, it automatically sends a text message that contains a 20- to 120-second video reminding the wearer about their plan to quit smoking.

Ming-Chun Huang, an assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Case Western Reserve, said of the reliability of their system: “We’ve been able to differentiate between a single motion, which could be confused with eating or drinking, and a sequence of motions more clearly linked to the act of smoking a cigarette.”

As a result of the collaborative effort between the electrical engineering and computer science researchers at the Case School of Engineering and a high school intern and a clinical psychologist at the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine, the prototype anti-smoking system combines the following features:

- An online platform that provides a personalized plan for smoking cessation and a mindfulness training to keep the wearer encouraged.

- A technology that makes use of two armband sensors instead of one to increase its accuracy rate. The two-armband setup has shown 98-percent accuracy compared to a single-armband setup that has 72 percent accuracy.

- A text messaging service that notifies the wearer about their plan to quit smoking, and reminds them of the health and financial benefits of quitting.

The software is currently limited to smartphones running Android OS.