If you’re ok with dropping the “cool factor” that goes along with smoke rising from around your face, sounding like a 200 year old truck-driver on a respirator and smelling of burnt carcinogens, then the Ploom modelTwo may be just the right nicotine absorption alternative for you. Ploom recently won the coveted Red Dot Design Award for the device that totally reinvents smoking, warming a wee tobacco pod for a perfect vapor inhaling experience while at the same time eliminating the concerns that go with lighting up. We shot some questions over to Ploom CEO, James Monsees, to find out about the development process and what makes the Ploom modelTwo an award winning design.
Pop a Ploom in your Mouth
This isn’t the first time Ploom has developed a state-of-the art Tobacco gadget. The Pax was their first leaf vaporizing device that allows one to pack loose-leaf organic material, heat, wait and vape… or ploom as they say. The modelTwo, as the name implies, is their second device, streamlined and simplified through the use of pods, available in six flavors. You do not, however, pop the Ploom pods in your mouth, you pop them in the Ploom first.
“The modelTwo heats individual pods of premium, authentic loose-leaf pipe tobacco to the point of vaporization, resulting in a cleaner tobacco experience.”
A cleaner tobacco experience. Can I get some high-fives around this I-95 Pancake House? Eh? While we wait for a commercial with the stereotypical motorcycle gang having their cigarettes magically replaced with a Ploom device and white, sparkling teeth, there are details behind the design we were anxious to learn about. It’s a simple looking device, right? So, why is it needed and what exactly went into the design? Let’s ask James, shall we?
What are less obvious reasons a better way to consume tobacco is needed?
Maybe equally as obvious, the world has evolved a lot in the last century, but the majority of tobacco products have not. This creates a misalignment with a large percentage of consumers and the products that are available to them as well as an increasingly large opportunity for technology to address those problems and deliver solutions that refresh the magic and luxury of the tobacco category. More so, tobacco is a large industry but it’s not a terribly varied industry. The idea that one major product can address the needs of all consumers is one that has traditionally relied heavily on marketing to vary the products. In a modern world with high volume manufacturing and rapid technology improvement, consumers are increasingly used to real product solutions and individualized product differentiation. We think that shows a huge opportunity for products that speak directly to those consumers who aren’t perfectly aligned with traditional tobacco products.
What was the prototyping process like?
To build on your question, maybe more appropriately, I should address what is the prototyping process like. Really the first step for us was to build a company around the idea of disruptive innovation in the tobacco space based on the perpetual gathering of consumer insights and the need-finding process. We have a world-class team of in-house engineers and product designers as well as an in-house R&D team. The kinds of prototyping we do varies significantly from building foam model mockups to crude 3D prints to bench-top functional models to near final pre-production prototypes. The vast majority of our prototyping is done in-house and our firm belief is that, to do this well, we need to shun the preciousness of any individual prototype so that we can remain unbiased and critical of every result. We do this over and over again, often in-house and often in part with third-party machinists and vendors, as well as with our volume-manufacturing partners. When prototypes really resonate with consumers, we move them along. If they don’t ‘tick the box’ then we keep moving to the many others that we’re constantly working on in parallel.
What software/tools/design methods do you use in development?
Primarily we work in SolidWorks and generally render in KeyShot, but often our early prototyping processes can be as crude as sticks and glue.
What challenges/discoveries helped develop the modelTwo into an award winning product?
Unlike other vaporization products on the market, we discovered that we could better preserve what was beautiful about the traditional tobacco experience by actually using real tobacco in our product, and we discovered that we could better set consumer expectations for the product experience by breaking from the traditional iconography and language of cigarettes and utilizing a fresh perspective and approach to the design of the product.
Relatively speaking, the Ploom is reasonable price, especially figuring in the cost of medical treatment after the effects of traditional smoking. You can buy a starter kit for $65.95 or a modelTwo by itself for $39.95, directly from their website. Pod packs of 12 will run you $8.99 a pop.