Interactive Industrial Design and the Wave RTA Project – Part I
Following the official announcement of the Wave RTA project and over the past months, our inbox has been receiving many similar inquiries that can be categorised under two simple questions:
“When will the Wave be released?” and
“How is it gonna be like?”
It makes sense. With most industrial companies, product development process has always been shrouded in mystery.
People are used to waiting for release date announcements only. That is, when the product specs, design and overall characteristics will be unveiled.
Our answers to these questions could well be two new questions:
“When do you think that the Wave is ready for release?” and
“How do you want the Wave to be?” respectively.
Does this sound strange?
As you may already know, Atmizone is following a functional design approach that takes community feedback seriously into account, focusing on innovation and thorough engineering. Each device is an on-going project, either in development or completed, which is constantly open to comments, ideas and questions. Unlike common industrial practices, we want vapers to be part of our design procedures rather than just to expect release dates. So, actually, it’s up to you to decide when the Wave will be released.
This does not mean that Atmizone encourages a form of co-creation, where the final product is designed by the users, as instructed by open design principles. Interactive design is what we would call our way. And here is how it works.
It all starts with the “need finding” procedure. This is the procedure of identifying the needs of ourselves, blended with the needs of the vaping community in general or in particular target groups.
This could well be either a new need, deriving from new tendencies or unexplored areas of the vaping culture, or an unresolved problem of an already existing solution/suggestion. Every new project claims to be the answer of a new “need finding” procedure, otherwise there is no motive for us to materialise it. The “need finding” procedure in fact is a problem statement. Thus, our aim for each new project is to answer three questions:
• What is the problem or need?
• Who has the problem or need?
• Why is it important to solve?
With the Wave, we needed to see an RTA for the masses, either for experienced vapers or for newbies. We needed to materialise an RTA for everyday people, with restricted spare time and not being able to carry around a bunch of tools in a bag for a new setup. There had to be something easy without sacrificing quality and sustainability. There had to be something quick enough and also not dependant on the moods, the spare time, the luck, or the experience of the vaper, so that a successful setup could be achieved each and every time. Consequence of each and every setup has been of utmost importance. Use of only one type of wire has been a necessity as well, forgetting the puzzle of res and non-res wire.
When we started contemplating with ourselves and discussing with fellow vapers about the above issues, about two years ago, most of the suggestions out there definitely did not answer the problem.
Complexity of most atties, combined with restricted real-time access to the internals of the atomiser, and lack of basic, necessary features from the atties’ function, had been factors which as well motivated us back then. There are times when something is wrong with your setup although you probably did everything diligently. You might even need to make a small adjustment, correction or just check if the new setup is dirty. You should be able to this without putting the atty in for a pit stop.
Last but most important, we aimed for healthier solutions than old – fashioned wick, wanting to test the perspective of silica/cotton sleeves or, even better, cotton pads.
Needs of the vape community started turning into 2d and 3d sketches and, eventually, concept parts in our lab. The main characteristics of the device were defined and sketched in early 2013, while the first CAD drawings and atomizer prototypes were produced soon after.
The first prototypes were to be tested in-house only, so that we could check the basic forms and features ourselves. Above all, we initially needed to see if the new construction was somehow vape – capable. It may sound funny, but this had been our first concern, since everything was designed and inspired from scratch. A variety of slightly different versions of prototype parts would help us with the first impressions, also monitoring how function is affected by differentiating specs. Just like every atomizer, the Wave concept prototype consisted of 3 sub-systems that supplied the vaporization process with: i) electric power, ii) air and iii) e-liquid. In contrast to other atomizers, which commonly rely on heavy parts, multiple o-rings & insulators, long pieces of wicking material and often no-res wire to join the various sub-systems, the components of the Wave were organized much more neatly into a tightly integrated unit. The result was a compact atomizer that consisted of very few parts and could be rebuilt fast, using only: i) common sense, ii) resistance wire and iii) cotton, silica, or mesh.
After 3-4 months of exhausting testing and numerous prototypes, the first impressions by Atmizone members had been a headache. The prototypes were indeed vape – capable, but we were puzzled by random strange behaviour in certain setup tests. It was time for a small team of testers to help out. Refinements were made on certain parts, and the final prototypes were handed over to our team of Atmizone testers.
At the same time, we kept on with conducting our in-house tests, and optimised critical specs of parts, as well as set-up procedures and materials.
– Cotton eventually gave what we wanted with various setups between 0.8 and 1.6 Ohms. Cotton, paired with the Wave atomising system, resulted to a balance of flavour vs cloud that started to be very satisfying: The cloud was sufficient for a one-coil setup, while the flavour tasted like few atties we had tested before.
– The addition of an air flow cap allowed us to control how tight the draw was very easily. It was after all positioned on top of the tank, although driving the air eventually to the sides of the coil, exactly as intended to.
– Interactive design procedure served its purpose in an outstanding way: After the team’s useful feedback and some observations of his own, Jimmy incorporated a user-friendly liquid flow control ring, which made true our two most desired features – liquid and air flow control.
Most important thing, both of the above features proved to be easily controllable with minimum complexity. This has allowed us to balance and master the two most important variables in an atomiser, air and liquid flow, in real time.
The final improvements were incorporated in the Wave parts design. Atmizone members and our small team of testers have decided that the Wave has reached a very satisfactory level of efficiency and performance. Just before the official release though, the interactive design has the last word: the public testing procedure.
Stay tuned with us for Part II, to learn how and when everything will be done, so that we can finalise the Wave design together.