Why did Apple just file a vaporizer patent?

Apple has filed for a pretty odd patent.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on Thursday published an Apple patent application for a new "vaporizer" technology. The patent application describes a "chamber body" that can take an unidentified substance that will then be "vaporized or sublimated into a vapor."

The patent application, which was earlier discovered by Digital Trends, fails to mention exactly how the technology would be used in the real world.

Still, as a major technology company, it's not immediately clear what Apple would want with a vaporizer. While the company is dipping its toes into the healthcare industry, vaporizers don't seem to be in its wheelhouse.

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However, the vaping community is growing in numbers, thanks in no small part to the ongoing popularity of vapes to smoke everything from e-cigarettes to marijuana. Is it possible, then, that Apple is considering a way to get into the vaping world and capitalize on that growing market?

That sounds unlikely, and Apple has never made any indication that it would even consider joining that market.

However, there are more ways to join the vaping industry than by just offering products. After all, if Apple's technology is heads and shoulders above all others, there might be an opportunity -- if the company so wished -- to license its technology to companies operating in that market. Patent licensing, after all, can be a lucrative option.

It's important to note that Apple, like other major technology companies, files for patents all the time on technologies that never make their way to the market. It's entirely possible that this is just one of them, and vaping is little more than a market that one of Apple's employees -- in this case, Tetsuya Ishikawa -- was thinking about and decided to invent something for it.

In other words, there might be nothing to this patent other than an idea and some interest in a budding industry.