Friday, December 31, 2010


I am not a smoker, but many of my coworkers are. Smoke breaks are super super common, and e-cigarettes are popular too, as they allow smokers to smoke at their desks. (Traditional cigarettes would set off the smoke detectors, as well as making the entire office smell like an old cigarette.) One of my coworkers I remember complaining that he had two e-cigarettes, and this used up his hands, making it somewhat difficult to smoke and work at the same time. (If I'm remembering right, this same guy goes through a pack and a half of cigarettes per day, and this goes up to two packs per day on stressful days.) He idly pondered if there was some mechanical way to help, and although I said nothing, the wheels of my mind were already at work.
I'm imagining a collar-like machine with two robotic arms attached, and the arms hold the e-cigarette. Or two of them. Upon a pre-conceived signal, which could be two blinks, or a shrug, or any other gesture that can be made while typing, the machine pops the e-cigarette into the user's mouth for a quick inhale. It then extracts the cigarette and moves it to the side so he can get back to work.
Such a machine would increase the productivity of my smoking coworkers, who can now get their nicotine fix while at work, and would probably improve their smell a bit. (I can tell when they've had a cigarette, because they come back from outside smelling like an old ashtray.) Unfortunately, I think it would deepen their nicotine addiction. To the point that they'd never really stop smoking. And nicotine is made by tobacco plants specifically to make insects that eat them die of heart failure. Then again, so is caffeine, and I've developed quite the coffee habit, I'm afraid.
I'll be sitting in a major certification exam today. A little nervous.


KaiWen said...

Who needs Robots? Just mount a flexible metal arm to the desk that holds it for them, then they just lean forward to take a puff.

Mad Engineering said...

Sure, why not? In the future, we can all work from smoke-desks. It'll be so common that it'll be cheaper to have an awkward arm that does nothing than to make the desks of nonsmokers like me armless.

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