FULL STEAM AHEAD: HOW VAPING TECHNOLOGY IS EVOLVING
Posted at 5:00 • 20 Nov • Tech
Surprising beginnings, not-so-surprising setbacks and
the big vaping boom.
THIS STUFF DATES BACK TO THE 1920s?
If you’ve watched JLO’s “Dinero”, you’ll have spotted how pally she is with DJ Khaled and Cardi B (gotta stay relevant, right?). The video joins the growing list of film and music footage that features vaping. While “Dinero” is shot old-school, you’d never think that e-cigarettes actually existed as a concept during the black and white era.
While the e-cigarette as we now know it was officially invented by Hon Lik in 2003, the idea dates back to the year 1927. Floating around somewhere is the patent that Joseph Robinson filed for an “electric vaporizer holding medicinal compounds which are electrically (or otherwise) heated to produce vapours for inhalation”. The guy wasn’t exactly dishing out the JUUL starter kit, but the idea was there.
ANOTHER TRY IN THE 1960s (THINGS WERE STILL A BIT MAD MEN THOUGH)
Seriously- this is like the archives of unknown vaping trivia. In 1963, Herbert A. Gilbert filed a patent for the vapourising of a flavour cartridge. The details are pretty similar to what we have today.
“You’re looking at the 1960s, though. Women smoked while baking cupcakes, men smoked...well, any time they were awake. Big Tobacco? Aside from getting mega rich, they were busy chemically tweaking nicotine to make it more addictive.”
THE 2000s WAKEUP: FROM CIGALIKE TO NEXT-GEN TECH
There’s a giant gap between the 1960s patent and Hon Lik’s 2003 invention of the modern e-cig. Quite what people were doing, we don’t know.
2003: Hon Lik is in China. He’s just watched his own father die from lung cancer. The guy is anything but an idiot. He gets the idea to use a piezoelectric ultrasound-emitting element to vapourise a pressurised jet of liquid- you guessed it: nicotine diluted in propylene glycol. That’s the PG part of the PG/VG ratio you see on the side of your bottle. He gets things going, and the rest is history.
2007: Vaping devices start getting noticed more seriously in the US. Over in the UK, 2007 sees the launch of the Gamucci cartomiser (joined atomiser and cartridge). Hesitant smokers looking to make the switch start buying cigalike devices in an attempt to quit, but the results aren’t anywhere as successful as today.
2012: Vapers using rubbish cigalike devices get more demanding. The industry realises that tens of millions of vapers are 100% legit about quitting- it needs to up its game. Temperature control systems allowing the vaper to optimise atomisation and vapour generation arrive. To read more about temperature mode vs. wattage mode, click here.
2014: “My e-liquid is running low, I’d like to be informed”. In 2014, Beyond Twenty LTD files a patent for a carry case with a signal requesting system for a user-replaceable cartridge. Of course, this was long before vape pods became the easiest way ever to just “pop in, vape, chuck out, repeat”.
- 2015 onwards: Everything ups its game. E-liquids that used to be straight-up tobacco or a single fruit flavour are now pistachio creme brulee, Candy Skittelz and the Dinner Lady Lemon tart that no-one can get enough of. Nic salts now also exist. Hardware-wise, you’ve only got to look at any high street. They’re filled with vapers holding discreet vape pens, pod kits and vape shops where newbies can get their hands on a vape starter kit. The past 3 years have brought us state-of-the-art box mods, more knowledge on mech mods, a chance to blow nuclear clouds with a Sub-Ohm vape kit and, of course, the 2015-launched JUUL.
ENOUGH ABOUT THE PAST, ONTO THE PRESENT
“Comparing the evolution of vaping devices is like comparing 90s Mario to World of Warcraft.”
If video games had amateur-like pixelation and the grand choice of two settings, vaping had a similar deal. The early cigalike “let you play” (although to be fair, you were avoiding the playing with fire that is smoking), but the devices were weak. You had no temperature or wattage control, limited actual wattage, a fiddly device that looked like a cigarette (but was weirdly too heavy), and yeah… it just blew.
THE POD KIT ERA
Remember iPods? They were cool, right? The word “pod” has worked its way into our DNA. While the iPod kind of died out with the arrival of smartphones, we just don’t see pod kits disappearing.
“If you’re looking for the best vape starter kit (or just don’t fancy the hassle of changing coils and refilling tanks), you need to pod it out.”
These all-in-one devices are easy enough to use in your sleep (not recommended), small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and the clue is in the name.
Pre-filled or refillable pods of e-liquid that you just snap into place
With or without nicotine, high nicotine available, especially good with nic salts
Models like the Aspire Gusto Mini, Suorin Drop and SMPO Pod Kit are all covered in our guide to picking the best pod kit.
THE TECH JUST GOT AN ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE INJECTION
When we profiled SMOK, we called them a “beast of a brand” for a reason. The SMOK I-Priv is the super-advanced mod that can hear your voice, respond to your commands and handle 16 of them. You “wake up your warrior” by saying: “Hello I-Priv”. It’s got firmware upgradeability, VW/Memory modes and a staggering amount of power.
The iJoy Avenger gets to call “OG” on being the first artificial intelligence vape device with voice control. You can lock it, unlock it, change the colour (romantic light available), plus change power from high, low and auto, to auto-watt mode.
JUUL IS GETTING BLUETOOTH
For a device that’s so simple and easy-to-use, even JUUL are getting in on the AI action. JUUL just announced plans to release Bluetooth-enabled vapes with features to help users keep track of how often they’re using their device, alongside nicotine strength and changing the intensity of the flavour.
HIGH-FIVE, 4th-GEN DEVICES
If you’ve got a phone, you might remember 3G. The third generation of data providing was replaced by 4G, and we’re now looking at 5G. Vaping had a similar deal. Cigalikes and their variants. Vape pens with higher battery power and refillable cartridges. Box mods allowing faster inhalation. Pod kits. We’ve now reached the 4th generation of e-cigarettes.
Vape pens are now sophisticated, intuitive and kind of competing with pod kits when it comes to an itsy-bitsy device that’s portable and fuss-free. Vape enthusiasts haven’t abandoned box mods, though (not a by a mile). Some are trying out new vape products like CBD liquids. Others are tweaking their VG for max clouds. Either way, they’re just like you- part of the generation that is making vaping a thing of the future (and smoking a thing of the past).
“If you’re not sure which is best for you, we’ve done a little intuition of our own. Our new website’s interactive features get to know you with handy guides- from how to quit smoking, to the kind of device that would suit you best.”
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