Culture and technology have always overlapped. Believe it or not, cigarettes—the uniform bi-color cylinders packaged in tiny boxes—are the result of technological advancement. We look at cigarettes now, and don’t see much that we identify as technology, but that’s because we ourselves are products of the industrial revolution. Great advancements in manufacturing created a world composed of uniform pieces, replicated in exactitude ad infinitum. Those technological circumstances found an enduring companion in our need to inhale combusted tobacco leaves. In the previous wave of technological advancement national corporations took plant leaves, and pocket-friendly incendiary devices, and delivered them to the masses in what became a mark of contemporary culture. It was hip to smoke because it was hip to be able to carry around consumable totems of the power of society’s recent advancements. We needed thousands of years to figure out how to create on-demand pocket-friendly fire, and uniform products that could provide a unified experience across the whole world. For a cigarette smoker the future was tangible: Buy your brand of cigarettes in Milwaukee, New York, Miami, or Shanghai, pull out your always-ready pocket incendiary device, and you could have the same experience over and over again. That’s a big part of why cigarettes were wildly popular, it’s as much—if not moreso—about the concept as it is the experience. A pack of pre-rolled cigarettes and a lighter represent the cutting edge of human power in the previous century.
But, in today’s internet-defined world, technology has shifted the values of culture, and the power of the industrial revolution is banal. We live in a time where on-demand is more significant than universally available uniform goods, and smoking weed carries the kind of cultural capital that used to come with smoking tobacco. People today are not satisfied with mere consumption; they want to consume defiantly. Thus, the recent surge in popularity of vaporizers should come as no surprise; it lets smokers go where smoke can’t. While the underlying technology of vaporizers is not always cutting-edge, the application is. We live in an age of dissent, and the power to covertly blow a cloud of potentially intoxicating vapor in a movie theatre, a crowded public place where there are police, or even an airplane lavatory is truly revolutionary. Cannabis smokers used to get really high before a movie, but then invariably spend the second half of the movie un-stoned. Now, they can stay high for the whole movie. Cigarette smokers on long flights can now sneak into the bathroom and vaporize without being detected. Vaporizers are practical power in a time when our every step is marked, noted, archived, and potentially used against us. As technology turns more and more of our existence into a digital affair, vaporizers are bound to continue to become more popular, but plenty of folks are already making big business out of all the potential.
From prescient celebrities, to savvy entrepreneurs, to dedicated product development specialists, the vaporizer marketplace has created a promising crop of business opportunities. Some folks get by on products derived from pre-manufactured components coupled with solid marketing, some folks get by on thoroughly researched and designed products and let the marketing happen organically, and there’s everything in between. It’s anyone’s guess what the future holds for this growing industry, but no matter what’s to come one thing is for certain: Vaporizers are only going to get more and more popular. Below are a few of the biggest names making moves in this brave new world of combustion-less consumption.