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Apple Just Invented a New Vaporizer. Too Bad You Can’t Buy It

January 27, 2017
FILE - In this Sept. 5, 2014, file photo, the Apple logo hangs in the glass box entrance to the company's Fifth Avenue store in New York. On Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016, Apple announced it is extending its push into selling business technology by forging a partnership with the Deloitte consulting firm to advise companies on using iPhones, iPads and Apple software in the workplace. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
Apple is a famously secretive company, so tech reporters eager to get a scoop sometimes sift through the company’s patent applications to see what the tech giant might be cooking up. This week a search turned up something unusual: diagrams for what appear to be a new vaporizer.

vapor-diagram

The document, filed in June 2016 and released Thursday by the US Patent and Trademark Office, appears to describe a vaporizer designed to maximize efficiency, allowing more of the substance to be vaporized and less to be lost to cooling. More importantly, it suggests the Cupertino, Calif.-based company could be considering entering the vape market. At the very least, we now know they’re paying their R&D department to come up with new designs.

Tech website Digital Trends reported the story Friday, noting that it’s not the first time Apple has been linked to vaping devices. “Before vaping became fashionable,” the report says, “Apple developer Mark Williams left his position at the high-profile company where he worked on MacOS, and joined former Juniper developer Sasha Robinson to create the Firefly, a top-of-the-line vaporizer.”

“It confirms our vision about innovating in the vaporization space.”
Baran Dilaver, Firefly Vapor COO

The Firefly, introduced in 2013, quickly became one of the top high-end vaporizers on the market. It’s now in its second product generation, and competes most often with the Pax line of high-quality vapes.

Baran Dilaver, Firefly Vapor’s chief operations officer, called the Apple patent application “exciting news.”

“It confirms our vision about innovating in the vaporization space,” he said in a statement. “However, I don’t think that this patent is intended for our segment specifically based on my reading of the application.”

Though it’s technically possible to secure a patent for a device that can potentially be used with an illegal substance, most vaporizer manufacturers base their devices on the idea that they can be used with non-cannabis-based substances. The Apple patent mentions no product specifically, referring to only “a substance that is to be vaporized.”

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If our crude reading of the patent is correct, the Apple-conceived vaporizer is an attempt to up the consistency of vaporization. Applied to a cannabis-oil cartridge, for example, the technology could mean less leftover extract—and less wasted cash—when the cartridge is finished.

“In a typical sublimator or vaporizer,” the application says, “a substance (also referred to here as a chemical) is placed into a canister that is heated to a sufficiently high temperature that causes the substance to sublimate (solid to vapor) or vaporize (liquid to vapor), in the canister. While the substance is heated, the regions where the vapor is formed will cool, due to the latent heat of vaporization, yielding an inconsistent vaporization rate.”

To address that inconsistency, Apple’s design includes “a plate whose bottom face rests on the substance inside the chamber body,” according to the patent application. The plate contains a heating element “which releases heat directly above the substance that lies below.” Like a plunger in a pen’s ink reservoir, the plate “slides downward as the substance is consumed.”

There’s no iVape yet, but it’s a sign the global tech giant is interested in the booming sector. Stay tuned.

Ben Adlin's Bio Image

Ben Adlin

Ben Adlin is a senior editor at Leafly who specializes in politics and the law. Follow him on Twitter: @badlin

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  • arsenic

    Let the wild speculation begin!
    It could be aromatherapy
    It could be for electronics manufacturing
    It could be a redesign of something they are already using.
    But sure, the company that refused to let their computers run vector graphic games for 10 years with a corporate attitude built around that complete ahole of a human being Steve Jobs, is going to jump in the cannabis business space. Right.

  • Open Minds

    If so, they are waaaay late to the game. There are already plenty of high quality vaporizers on the market. Moreover, the aura of the Apple brand isn’t what it used to be.

    • Danny D

      Um, they were kinda late to the .mp3 player game and that seemed to work out okay for them.

      • AzamKhan

        Not the ideal comparison granted Apple controlled the content marketplace. There’s little platform play here unless Apple can capitalize on eliquid or cbd/thc cartridge sales which won’t be happening anytime soon.

  • Jarkko Salo
  • Im sure it wont be too far along before your cannabis products are somehow used by your smartphone. Maybe apple will come out with a vapor pen that plugs into their ever changing plugs. Make sure you start shortening your marijuana stories links with http://ibud.ca and get points you can use to buy weed.

    • Ever-changing… as in the whopping two types of charging ports that iOS devices have used over ten years of devices? Most other device manufacturers have gone through as many or more changes, thanks to the adoption of the smaller micro USB… plus USB type-C, which even the MacBook line is now moving towards. Also, the Firefly 2 already has smartphone apps for iOS and Android OS. You can even use it to update the thing’s firmware.

  • jimbro44

    Bud doesn’t really “go away” when you vape it, I set my firefly 2 on 420 degrees plus like +108%-110% boost (a feature ff offers you can go from 89% to 111% on any power setting to further customize the temp.) I like to get it golden brown to black, so this suggests it is right at or below the combustion point. Ever notice how people blow out clouds from a vapor? It’s usually combusting or almost combusting… even in these cases u hardly lose any material. The FF2 has a small bowl for a reason. 1 is u get more out of ur smoke but also it allows it to be heated to desired temp in seconds, and when ur supposed the stir the bowl half way through (it says after 5 hits and that you’ll get 5 more after.stirring but for me its.more like 3 and 3,i take big rips and have a tolerance) anyway halfway thru I noticed the amount has gone done but BARELY. ) Like I load enough where u how to gently tamp it to make it fit and after 4 hits or 5 I can notice there’s more air in between the particles and it can be pushed down farther…
    However my point is, while it’s an interesting concept on paper, I do believe they are very late to the game and also the larger bowl vapes don’t usually have the ability to hit it on demand… ur smoking whatever u load that bowl with whether ur done or not.. (I’ve used like 4 vapes in my life, however they were all different types so Im no beginner but I’m no expert either.) Just my 2 cents

  • Jed West

    I’d guess this patent is for cooling technology.

  • George Edwards

    It is not for getting stoned, Its for transportation.

  • James Martin

    Everyone seems to think that this is for cannabis. Nobody’s looking at the advancements in VR tech…the missing elemets of smell now can be conveniently part of the environment. Apple has a lot more invested in the other than you guys realize. It’s nice to dream. I’m sure someone will try to adapt something similar but I would imagine this is part of a larger unit that would sit in a room designed to emulate the smell of smoke or the ocean to create a much more immersive environment. Sorry to burst your bubbles guys

    • JaSuS

      Good Take

  • kbiggs11

    I Just came

  • SpaceCadetBird

    U G H more ways to gentrify weed, jesus fucking christ is anything going to be affordable??

  • Jeremy

    No, this is not the case.

  • Manolo Abrante

    pretty sure other people mentioned it already, but this has nothing to do with the vaping we know, but rather further advancement on some microchip/ semi-conductor tech