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Lightercase lights your smokes, protects your iPhone

We have a policy of not writing about crowdfunded projects until they're either at or within touching distance of their goal, and the unique Lightercase (US$38 pre-order) certainly fits that criteria. It's currently about $1,200 away from a $25,000 goal with three weeks to go, and it looks like the project will definitely be launched.

What makes the Lightercase unique? A built-in no-flame cigarette lighter. Lightercase is the brainchild of Jason Buzi, the founder and CEO of Smartcase. He came up with the idea while out with friends one night -- friends who had their smartphones at their fingertips all night, but who kept asking for a light. The result was a heatproof case with a built-in electronic lighter, a battery big enough to light 500 cigarettes (or recharge another device) and even an LED flashlight.

Who could use such a device? Well, smokers, of course. But I could see how this could be useful for campers as well if it can provide a way to start campfires (see video below where I try lighting regular paper). There's a little heating coil that is embedded under a spring-loaded door. Slide that little door down with a thumb, and the coil heats up immediately. Touch a cigarette or other flammable material to it while it's glowing, and it lights up. Think of the Lightercase as being the modern equivalent of the car cigarette lighter that's been supplanted by all of those "power outlets" in your car.

That spring-loaded door keeps the Lightercase from deciding to light up your pocket or backpack, a helpful safety feature. The lighter is also supposed to shut off within four seconds, although the pre-production version I have ended up turning off after 10 seconds. It's only putting out five watts of heat energy, enough to light that cigarette, but not enough for the case to get hot.

To charge the Lightercase there's a standard USB to mini-USB cable; the company says it needs to be plugged in for about three to five hours to totally charge up.

Other than the flashlight and lighter, the Lightercase is a pretty mundane iPhone case. Currently the company plans to have a model for the iPhone 5/5s available in December or January, one for the iPhone 4 and 4s in February and other models for other smartphones starting in the February timeframe as well. If the company exceeds the $25,000 funding request, they intend to open the design up to the iPhone 5c as well. Colors include basic black, black with blue metal accents, white with white metal accents and white with the ever-popular pink metal accents.

As we received a pre-production model for review, we won't be giving it away (and note that the production models will look different as well). But if you're a smoker or gadget freak, you'll want to pre-order a Lightercase on Indiegogo.

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