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Federal Government Funds $400G Smoke-Detecting Underwear Project

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File photo of people smoking cigarettes. (credit: NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images)

File photo of people smoking cigarettes. (credit: NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images)

CBS Atlanta (con't)

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (CBS Atlanta) – “Is that a smoke detector in your pants or are you just happy to see someone?” That’s the question some people might hear thanks to a new $400,000 government project.

Smoke-detecting underwear is the latest federally-funded project commissioned to monitor peoples’ smoking habits for them.

The project, which was overseen by the National Institute of Health and commissioned by scientists at the University of Alabama, uses a bracelet and a sensor located on the midsection to keep track of hand-to-mouth motions and inhalation, according to the scientists. The development of the project began in 2010 as the Personal Automatic Cigarette Tracker, which would record the frequency of the motions with real-time information.

“We are trying to eliminate the need for self-report from people about how much they smoke, when they smoke, how many puffs they take from the cigarette,” said Dr. Edward Sazonov, an associate professor at the University of Alabama, in a news release. “The combination of these two sensors, hopefully, will allow us to monitor cigarette smoking without asking people when and how much they smoke.”

After three years in development, the device is essentially a vest with multiple straps that’s worn below the belt. Right now, the project might be considered too bulky to wear over everyday garments.

The project is believed to have cost the federal government $400,000.

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