Vaporizer users will have something new to celebrate. After three years of development, Las Vegas-based DaVinci will launch its newest vaporizer, the IQ, by the end of October.
The device is about the size of a flip phone and weighs around the same amount.
DaVinci has been producing high-quality vaporizers for years, touting their clean materials and better taste. According to CEO Cort Smith, the company got a lot of love early on from veteran tokers, but it took time for the marijuana mainstream industry to catch up.
Before entering into the world of weed, Smith designed bungee towers and amusement-park rides in Asia. "It was intense, because if you got [the manufacturing] wrong, people died," he says, "so we took the work very, very seriously."
Through that work, Smith had established business connections in China. That made it easier for him to set up a factory to create DaVinci products. Still, it took the team in China two years and seven iterations to perfect the product engineering for the IQ. "I totally under-thought the complications of this endeavor," Smith says.
The design evolved with each trial, as the team found things they liked or wanted to upgrade — but communications took some work, and Smith had to choose terms that worked in both English and Chinese. "Because half the team is in the States and half the team is in China, I have to find names for things that both sides can say," he explains. "If you use too high-tech of a name, then no one will know how to translate it."
That's how the company came up with unique terms for the different parts of the vaporizer. The canister where the user loads weed is called the "salad bowl," for example. "How would you say, 'loading platform?,' Smith continues. "If we called it a loading platform in Chinese, they'd be like, where's the fork lift? What container are you filling up?"
There were other challenges, too. The team originally considered crafting a glass air path, but ended up going with Zirconia ceramic — the same material used to make fake teeth. The Zirconia air path passes from the bowl up through what Smith calls the "flavor chamber." With vaporizers, sometimes the air is too hot and burns the lips. To combat that, DaVinci designers expanded the air path. After the smoke enters the flavor chamber, it enters an expansion chamber that cools the vapor.
"A lot of people who use our brand are medicinal users, people who have to do this every day," he points out. "It's not religious, it's not for fun; they have real medicinal needs. They don't want to plastic in their mouthful. They don't want to have the taste of steel from their bowl. They don't want the taste of silicone. We paid attention to this and used materials that wouldn't allow those flavors into the air path."
All the parts of the IQ, including the battery, come apart. A replaceable battery allows users to buy a separate battery and keep it with them so that if a battery runs out, they can easily replace it. This also allows for easier cleaning.
"Some people are really OCD about cleaning. You can take everything out, dump it into a bottle of ISO (isopropyl alcohol) and you can see through it, so you know if you're gummed up or not," Smith says, holding his device up to the light. "It looks really simple," he adds as he taps the device and the battery pops out. "There's probably 400 hours of engineering to make that happen. We were mining for micro-millimeters."
The mouthpiece was also very important to Smith. At one point, he tried another product with a group of people, and he was the last in line. "I thought, oh, man, I'm kissing all these guys. Full tongue, man, here we go... And you don't want to be that guy and [wipe it off], but that moment, I decided I was going to build a vaporizer that does not have sticky mouth," Smith says. "Generally, it's a social experience. If you're sitting around with friends or even walking with a stranger, if they're willing to partake in the peace pipe with you, it's like, okay, I might not know your name or who you are, but it's like, all right, let's break bread together, let's do this."
So with the IQ, there's no extension that goes into the user's mouth; instead, you put your lips up to the device.
The vaporizer also has an interface that allows the user to control temperature. It turns on with five clicks and then lights up. The glowing numbers show what degree setting the device is currently heated to, and the interface allows for very specific temperature calculations.
There's an option allowing users to choose their temperature from one of four "Smart Path" settings instead of an individualized temperature. Each square has a twenty-degree range over a ten-minute cycle.
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Another option makes this vape unique: a "boost."
"If I wanted to make sure I got the whole bouquet, I could hit this button right here," Smith says, gesturing to a button on the side of the piece. "And what it does is it uses the electricity and maxes it out so it gets really hot really fast. I can take the hotter hit. Then when I let go of it, it cuts the electricity."
Once the user lets go of the button, the vape ges back to the standing temperature. "There are tolerance issues that need to be considered, so the boost button might be for the already tolerated" users, Smith says.
DaVinci has learned that its customers prefer having as much control over the product as possible, Smith concludes, and that's what his company is hoping to provide with the IQ. (It also comes in four colors.) Although the release date is weeks away, it's now available for pre-order.