The Wispr recently hit the market and has given a previously untapped segment of the smoking population something to shout about. The Wispr is a new product from the world's leading manufacturer of portable herbal vaporizers, Oglesby & Butler, designed by the groovy folks of Thing Tank in San Francisco. After some serious design research on usage and feedback on Oglesby & Butler's successful IOLITE vaporizer, Thing Tank went to work, improving on the original technology and transforming the form. Explains Chris Luomanen, Principal of Thing Tank:
From a form perspective, this is a dream brief for a product designer. It's a category that doesn't know what it looks like yet. When radios first came out and people made them look like churches and fireplaces because nobody knew what a radio looked like.
The butane-powered catalytic heater uses a grill to disperse heat which presents a challenge in keeping the vaporizer cool. Instead of burning the herb, it heats it to a temperature that vaporizes the active elements and creates a vapor that users inhale. Luckily for users, according to a recent NYTimes article on vaporizing, "Vaporized marijuana is virtually free of whatever toxic properties come with burning the plant," said Dr. Lester Grinspoon, an associate professor emeritus of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School." Read on to hear more from Thing Tank about the design process for the new Wispr and check out their rad video with Sequitur Creative on how to use it.
Packaging and Branding by Sequitur CreativePackaging and Branding by Sequitur Creative
Once the grill design was established, we worked hard to make every other aspect of the object as understated as possible. We had virtually unlimited options for the pattern on the metal screen behind the plastic grill. But anything stronger than a dot pattern started to feel like clashing plaids. The pill shaped opening in the metal screen is the fuel level window.
Is it on or is it off? That was one of the things our users were most confused about using the Iolite. For one thing, it had a gas switch marked 0 / 1. Engineers might understand what that means, but users didn't. And to make matters worse, the heater would continue to cycle for a few minutes after it was turned off. That REALLY confused people who, frankly, were a bit more susceptible to confusion than usual. I got more than a few panicked texts late at night.
We knew that the Wispr had to give better feedback about if its on. So we tackled that on a few fronts. For one, it doesn't continue to cycle once it's turned off. And the Wispr's its-on-when-you-can-see-the-orange-thing switch design gives clear visual feedback. A continuation of the motion that turns it on, lights it up. That not only simplifies the interaction, but it simplifies the object itself. There's just one big switch.
The silicone mouthpiece design was inspired by my daughter's sippy cup. We knew that we wanted the mouthpiece to fold down. But as we looked at a range of bulky mechanical hinges, the simple, intuitive solution of a thing that bends wowed us with its elegance. And folding the mouthpiece down locks the chamber in, so it can't open in your pocket. The added bonus is that the silicone material is an excellent heat insulator.