Mobile Technology

Can't find a smoking area? There's an app for that

Can't find a smoking area? There's an app for that
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Faced with increasingly strict regulations on public smoking, Japanese smokers are left with few designated smoking areas where they light one up. In order to help these people locate assigned smoking areas, Katabami Crafts has created a free "Smoking Map" iPhone application.

Obviously, smoking is a bonehead habit that nobody should be encouraged to take up. But having said that, it is legal in most countries and in places like Japan smokers are faced with the legitimate problem of finding an area away from others where they can smoke, or a place where they can purchase tobacco. The Smoking Map application helps users navigate with a map, directing them to the nearest smoking area, store, or vending machine (which requires ID).

The application cleverly crowd-sources user-generated data points which are then plotted on a Google Map. The iPhone's GPS detects your location when you want to add a "smoking area" or "tobacco merchant", and you just push the corresponding button in the app to drop a pin on the map. In the interests of keeping the data accurate and up to date, users can also flag data points as being incorrect or out of date. Once an area has been reported three times, it gets removed.

Given that Smoking Map hasn't been in the wild very long, there are still not too many data points plotted. But this is sure to increase with the size of their user base. Like any application that includes frequent references to drugs or alcohol, the App Store does require that you be at least 17 years old if you're to download Smoking Map.

As a former smoker myself, I'm happy to say that I don't have any need for an application like this anymore. But for those of you who do, let me also point out that there are a number of iPhone apps that will help you kick the habit as well.

Smoking Map via iPod Touch Lab.

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