Interview with Dave Schuler from Jupiter Research:
This year, a vaporiser caused a sensation in the field of medical marijuana. In Israel, the Vape Pod was the first vaporiser in the world to be recognised by the state as a medical device. The product has been developed in Israel by the US research company Jupiter Research in partnership with Kanabo Research.
We talked to Jupiter Research’s vice president of engineering, Dave Schuler, about design in the cannabis sector and the challenges of developing a government-approved product. The interview was held in connection with the article “Medicinal Marijuana” published in form 280.
How did the design process for the Vape Pod look like?
Working closely with the manufacturer and during several trips to China, we built prototypes and brought them back to the US for testing. We developed specialised test equipment and protocols for testing the devices in a laboratory that we assembled in a two-bedroom condo that served as Jupiter’s home office for the first 18 months. I did the final design verification testing in my garage.
We had to develop our own testing protocols and tools as none existed in this industry prior. As we identified problems and causes, we built more prototypes, bought more test equipment, designed new protocols, and performed more testing until we had it right.
What were the specific design challenges that arose during the design process?
Finding the right technology for the atomiser was critical. Technology available for e-cigarettes didn’t work well with the high viscosity of extracts. Material selection was also difficult. Chemical compatibility tables for cannabis extracts are not available; even the chemical composition of extracts was not well known at the time.
What factors went into deciding on the colour and form of the device?
The device needed to be durable and fit well in a pocket or purse. Discretion was a key element of the design. It was designed to look unique and hide the fluid, balancing form and function with discretion and safety. When on a table, we wanted the device to be discrete enough that others wouldn’t necessarily know what it was. Haptic feedback, the vibration feature, was incorporated in order to eliminate the light tip present in most vape hardware. When in use, only the user needs to know that the device is functioning, no need to broadcast it to the world. The flat nine-sided design will keep the device from rolling off a table, ready and available for use.
What kind of challenges did you encounter regarding the certification of the product as a government approved medical device?
The Israeli Ministry of Health needed to know that the device had controlled dose. There is no regulation in place that specifically asked for this, but that was one of the key elements to show the Ministry of Health that it was a medical device. Therefore, a metered dose for the device, approximately three milligrammes was added to the device.