Jan. 7, 2014 at 5:32 PM ET
You know that annoying moment you have sometimes when you put a cigarette down and someone else picks it up from the ashtray to start puffing away on your deathstick? Not really? Well, what about with the electronic variety?
On Tuesday, e-cigarette company Vapor Corp. unveiled a new, higher-tech functionality to electronic smoking with a solution to something that may or may not be an actual problem: biometric security.
Vapor X — currently just a prototype — is a "personalized" electronic vaporizer equipped with a fingerprint scanner to identify who is using the device. In other words: good luck trying to steal a quick drag off this pipe unless you have the fingerprint to match.
Cigarettes aren't exactly the kinds of things you swap back and forth with friends, so a security lock might seem like one of those odd or unnecessary features that just manage to jack up the price. The prototype was, after all, presented at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas — the yearly tech convention is the birthplace of many a unnecessary and expensive gadget.
Considering the rapid growth of the e-cigarette market as a whole however, this type of feature could prove to be a great idea. Major cities like New York have already begun to move to ban the use of e-cigarettes indoors, but their comparatively subtle odor may make e-cigarettes a palatable alternative to their combustible predecessors for smokers with non-smoking friends and family. Having an e-cigarette lying around the house without any kind of security lock leaves the door wide open for children. Given the CDC's announcement in Sept. 2013 that the percentage of U.S. high school students who have tried e-cigarettes doubled from 2012, it's a legitimate concern.
And then, of course, there's always that possibility that you're using your new high-tech vaporizer to smoke something other than tobacco. Something that, because of its illicit nature in the majority of U.S. states, still remains prohibitively expensive — so much so that you might want to guarantee that your mooching roommate can't get his or her hands on it. But you wouldn't be thinking of buying a vaporizer to do anything unseemly with it, now would you?
Yannick LeJacq is a contributing writer for NBC News who has also covered technology and games for Kill Screen, The Wall Street Journal and The Atlantic. You can follow him on Twitter at @YannickLeJacq and reach him by email at: Yannick.LeJacq@nbcuni.com.