Vaporizer Blog Interviews The Creators of Herbie The Worlds First Smart Vape

Vaporizer Blog caught up with Josh in San Diego for an interview to get the low down on their ambitions.

Creators of Herbie. From left to right: Sheila, Josh, Bob.

Creators of Herbie at factory in California. From left to right: Sheila, Josh, Bob.

Over the course of their combined decades of experience in electrical, mechanical and aerospace engineering, they’ve developed supercomputers that work in space, guidance systems for rockets, built satellites and the radar system for the Stealth Bomber.

Fortunately for us, when they tired of the planes, bombs and rockets life, rather than hiding out in a hollow volcano and building a doomsday device, they pooled their awesome talents to make the greatest herbal vaporizer in the galaxy. James Bond, you may stand down…

Herbalizer, the product they spent four years developing, combines aromatherapy and vaporization in one stylish, clamshell unit (see review). Technically, they drew on their high tech and super-reliable manufacturing experience to make it a marvel of functionality and robustness.

You worked on Trident II, Bob on the Stealth Bomber – how did you meet?

“Bob and I met at Maxwell Technologies here in San Diego when we were working on single board supercomputers for satellites. They’re incredibly durable with lots of redundancy, can be used in extreme cold and heat as well operate through ionizing radiation from galactic rays.”

What prompted you to make this transition from weapons of mass destruction to vapes of peace?

“We were annoyed with the company and had bigger dreams. Up late one night, I got a google popup for a vaporizer, thought it was really cool and wanted to buy one. But I looked at the reviews of what was out there and was disappointed. I thought I could do better.

I talked to Bob and we started sketching ideas, did a market analysis and it seemed like there was a real business potential. Two months later I quit my job, sold everything I had and haven’t looked back. Then Sheila, my other business partner, helped me raise well over a million dollars to complete the research and development.”

What inspired combining vaportherapy and aromatherapy in one device?

“Initially, everyone was marketing these things as aromatherapy vaporizers and from a legal standpoint it seemed smart to include this function. So it was an afterthought, but as we got further into the design I sought out an amazing aromatherapist in San Diego called Nancy and she explained how it worked, what was going on, and gave me various essential oils and testimonials. I figured that true aromatherapy really works and we should integrate it.

It works so well with our machine because the vaportherapy gives you the direct delivery for immediate effects, then the aromatherapy extends and balances the effect to complete it. So I think of it like a yin and yang system, where the yin is the strong part – the vaportherapy – and the yang is the conclusion of it, and together they are amazing.

Eventually we aim to have complimentary sets of all legal herbs and essential oils that harmonize together. We’re not there yet but we’re working hard on it.”

Editors Note: This ties in with terpenes and the ’entourage effect’, and connects together two aspects of herbal healing.

“You can take any herb you want and mix them with any herbal oil and freestyle into the room. Normally oils are very subtle but with a little heat you can distribute them for advanced aromatherapy; it’s very rapid and very strong.

There’s been a shift recently. The pharmaceutical model has been around for 80 years and we’re starting to reassess if this really is the best or only way.

We have these herbs from history that we know from experience work but the problem has been their latency; we live in a society of instant gratification. We want to take a pill and have immediate effect, but with herbs you make a tea or ingest it and then it takes 45 minutes to take effect. Speed is incredibly important and this is really a key shift to opening things up.

We did some proprietary studies on 35 herbs, like cardamom, damiana, lavender and hops. We made two groups of 20 volunteers, issued these herbs to people for a few months and a vaporizer. We asked them to vaporize the herbs and record their experience. Uplifting? Helped with sleep? It was not a scientific study but enough to overwhelmingly convince us there’s a lot of power in vaporizing all manner of herbs.

We all know one herb that’s a cash crop as it’s so potent. Imagine if there was cash in mugwort – you do get a little high from it but it stimulates lucid dreaming. What if it was a cash crop and we really increased its energy and potency? Same with damiana. That’s where I see us moving in our 6-7 year plan.”

Who made the actual design and form of the Herbie?

“When I was at Draper Labs, I became friends with Charya, who ran the art department there. I just asked her to make it beautiful. Bob and I are the nerdy types and she’s an amazing designer.

In fact we had three requirements: it had to be instantaneous, totally precise, and it had to be beautiful. Others vapes are slow and ugly – Herbie is something to show off in your home!

The clamshell seems really obvious now but it wasn’t, as nobody had done it. We started looking at how to get rid of the whip. We looked at a MiniVap-style attachment. But this tube hanging off makes it look like a piece of paraphernalia.

The clamshell idea came during a massive snowstorm I was driving through and I went in to this kind of trance for an hour, and I called Charya and told her my idea.”

The Herbie’s also very functional, with a low centre of gravity and everything fits snugly inside. I presume this is the result of your work on lightweight space payloads?

“People think it’s going to be really fragile but look (he picks up the Herbie by its open lid). That’s something you get from working at NASA – reliability built into the design, as opposed to adding something on after the fact to make it stronger. Every single component has durability designed into it.

The key thing is the temperature precision. I’m highlighting that as a lot of people moved away from vapor as it was too intense and they got paranoid. If you keep your Herbie at Uplifting you get mostly terpenes and little visible vapor. It’s like a cup of coffee and perfect for the morning. Then the sedative and pain relieving parts boil off in the Intense zone.

It’s an advanced way of vaping and can be confusing, but bear with me. If you go straight to Intense (445 degrees) with a fresh bowl, you’ll boil off everything. If you’re a smoker or bong user, that’s where you get the feeling you’re after; really heavy clouds that’ll knock you on your butt.

The other way is to partially boil off fractions. Awakening, no paranoia (helps with anxiety) and in the evening use the same boil, up to 390 top end of balance and blow off the psychoactive component (THC) into the room. Wasteful? Not if you don’t like that effect. Then raise it to the maximum temperature and you’re getting just the high-end molecules (cannabinoids), you get the pain relieving and sleep inducing. People love it. The temperature is so accurate and consistent you can delve into the spectrum.”

Sativas and indicas have the same cannabinoids, just in different amounts. By selectively removing, you can get a sativa effect with an indica and vice versa. But where does the data to play with this – and other herbs – come from?

“No-one’s ever done it; it’s a brand new field of study. My test group provided some data, and from my own experience I can say that mugwort at 330 degrees is different from 440. Has anyone corroborated this? No, because they didn’t have the equipment to do it and there was no incentive to do it in the past.

If you Google ‘cannabinoid boiling point temperature’ you’ll find the very limited data out there. Steephill labs, one of two main testing labs in US has some that’s repeated all over the place, but they didn’t create it themselves. It all comes from an early ‘90s medical journal, but I’ve never seen supporting data. But it’s best we have – use it as a guideline only. We will be heading up new research soon.”

Concentrates are just taking off in the Netherlands, after the US led the way. How do they work out in the Herbalizer?

“Spread or drop any kind of concentrated extracts onto the included stainless steel aromapad, and drop it in the bowl. Run at high temperature (400-445F), and it melts into the pad and vaporizes with near perfect efficiency. Compared to how they’re used with torch and glass, they’re still burning/superheating, so there’s a so lot of loss. You’ll get at least 2-3 times the vapor with Herbalizer; 8-10 bags with a little bit of wax!”

Editors Note: The Herbie uses three fans; a dedicated high power for blowing up the balloon, a dedicated cooling fan, and an aroma fan in a separate pathway and system. There’s a microprocessor, external memory, an accelerometer – it’s a very smart device. You can see the satellite experience, packing so much into small space.

“It’s the world’s first smartvape. The key point is that the temperature sensor is in the airstream. You can see it, a little white stick that lights up. No one else uses it – it’s custom designed. With the computing power we have, it’s continually feeding back and adjusting. The halogen 300-watt bulb can heat the air at the speed of light. Any slight change is instantaneously adjusted. This is how it perfectly controls the extraction, and therefore, how you feel. It’s our core technology.”

How does it do the adjustment?

“By micro-pulses; exactly how is secret. Some people worry about the reliability of a bulb, but our reliability testing is as used on a space program, and from deterministic stress testing we reckon it should last 20 years. Its all custom designed, made of quartz not glass. The surface of the quartz reaches 700-800 F; the filament reaches 3000 degrees – half the temperature of the surface of the sun! That’s pretty amazing.”

It sure is Josh…it sure is. Finally, how would you summarize all of this?

“My short answer? The Herbalizer does everything every other vaporizer does in one unit, and does them better.”

If you have any questions comment below and we’ll get them answered. Read our in-depth review of Herbalizer to find out more.

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  • Debra Ferris

    Terpenes, ketones, esters, lactones, alcohols, fatty acids, and steroids are all components of marijuana (I looked these up after your comment about terpenes and “entourage”). I have been researching aromatherapy quite a lot lately for articles (I am a freelance writer, in case you need one). Between my research and 10 years in the medical field, many of the above substances are REALY bad for both human and animal systems (cats are especially sensitive to terpenes and pine oils, oh, and tea tree). The ones that bother me in this chemical cocktail are terpenes, ketones, esters,and steroids. Any comment on this?