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Advancements In Vaping

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INTRODUCTION

Since the introduction of the first commercially successful e-cigarettes in 2003, vaping devices have been continuously improved to be made more efficient and effective. The first-generation devices, called cig-a-likes, were similar in appearance to conventional cigarettes. It was also when the term ‘electronic cigarette’ originated. The cartomizer, which combined a flavoured cartridge and an atomizer, was introduced in 2006. The second-generation vaping devices (vape pens) were designed to enhance the performance power of batteries and atomizers. These devices were used as starter kits by people who were new to vaping. Vape pen improved upon the weaknesses of cig-a-likes and created a better vaping experience, featuring a button that activated the firing mechanism while turning the battery on/off, and also a chip that prevented overheating. Cartomizers, a combination of cartridges and atomizers, were introduced at this time. Clearomizers, which followed the cartomizers, featured transparent tanks that helped visualize the e-liquid levels in them. They also had silica wicks that delivered the e-liquid to the heating coil. The third-generation mods were further improved versions, with more power and personalization. The advanced personal vaping devices were provided with higher wattage, variable wattage and voltage, digital display, temperature setting, sub-Ohm tanks, airflow control etc.

The current day fourth-generation vaping devices consist of vape pens with higher battery power and refillable cartridges, with provision of pod-kits and box mods, allowing faster inhalation. The current day vape pens are sophisticated and intuitive, making vaping a thing of the future. Pods are the latest all-in-one devices, wherein pre-filled or refillable pods of e-liquid can just be snapped into place. They are provided with ready-prepped coils with or without nicotine, and are especially good with nicotine salts. With technology and consumer needs rapidly changing, the vaping devices currently in the market are far more advanced and personable.

Listed below are a few interesting vaping devices
Bluetooth-enabled vape device

The Juul C1, a Bluetooth-enabled vape device, allows the user to monitor usage, lock the device and track a missing device, all through a mobile app. The device also requires users to submit a photo of the user and their government identification to access the app’s features [1].

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Power to control Nicotine

Enovap has come up with a product that has the power to control nicotine delivery. The ‘Hit Control’ feature enables change in nicotine delivery, anywhere between 18 mg to 0 mg, at the touch of a button. Also, with a smart learning algorithm, the Enovap device learns the user’s needs and helps deliver the right amount of nicotine when needed; it reduces the nicotine delivery gradually over time [2].

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Heat-not-burnt Tobacco heating system (IOQS)

IQOS, from Philip Morris, is a tobacco heating system (THS) with sophisticated electronics, which heats the tobacco just enough to release a nicotine-containing tobacco vapour, but without burning the tobacco. The THS heats the tobacco to a temperature of 350o C. There are three main components in the THS: a heated tobacco unit (Heat sticks), a holder and a charger. The holder supplies heat to the tobacco unit via the heating blade for six minutes or 14 puffs, whichever comes first. IQOS MESH, the latest product in IQOS series, has a new heating technology comprising a metallic mesh punctured with tiny holes to heat a pre-filled, pre-sealed e-liquid cap (called VEEV) that contains nicotine and flavors. In each VEEV cap, there is a new MESH heater, eliminating the need to manually replace it [3] [4].


Heat-not-burn hybrid device

Glo Sens, a product from British American Tobacco, is a battery-powered device with a unique ‘Taste Fusion Technology’ that combines vaping with real tobacco. Glo Sens uses cartridges containing a red liquid that is heated to create a vapour, which is then passed through a separate pod containing real tobacco, before being delivered to the consumer. Glo Sens is available in Japan and Korea [5].

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The Heating Innovator

Respira Technologies is a platform biotechnology company with a “no heat” pod-based inhalation system. The company creates breakthrough aerosol devices and formulations that safely deliver cannabinoids, nicotine, and a broad range of pharmaceuticals [6].

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Feelm Tech – The New atomizer

FEELM is a type of ceramic atomizer used in closed-system pod vapes. It features a black ceramic conductor containing thousands of micropores that control the size and clearance of each aperture, ensuring that every drop of liquid can be conducted uniformly and efficiently, and rapidly atomized by the metal film on the ceramic surface of the atomizer [7] [8].

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Heating technology

Japan Tobacco (JT), after the success of Ploom Tech with tailor-made tobacco capsules, introduced Ploom TECH+ and Ploom S. Ploom Tech+ is a unique tobacco-infused vapour product with low-temperature heating technology (about 40oC), whereas Ploom S is a high-temperature tobacco vapor product (about 200oC) using JT’s unique tobacco flavoring method and heating technology that reduces odours normally found in high temperature-tobacco vapor products [9] [10].


Caffeine Vaporizer

JT also launched a vaporizer named “ston” for smoking caffeine, which is claimed to help workers fight sleepiness. The product can be used with cartridges of liquids containing caffeine and another flavor containing gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, which is said to have a relaxing effect [11].

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Vaping products disguised as everyday items

Here are some of the common stealth vaping devices currently in the market:

Vape Watch

A pod-style vaping device in a watch-type carrying case, from Uwell,the device can be removed from the watch casing to vape. It has a modern look, and comprises a 2ml refillable pod and a 1.6 ohm internal coil that fires at 10W. It is well-suited for nicotine salts due to its high resistance [12].

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Hoodies - Vaping backpacks generally contain a pouch to hold the vaping device, with concealed tubing and a mouthpiece in the shoulder strap, allowing it to be pulled out for use as desired and then tucked back in discreetly. This is a patented technology by Vaprwear [13] [14].

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Backpacks - Vaping backpacks generally contain a pouch to hold the vaping device, with concealed tubing and a mouthpiece in the shoulder strap, allowing it to be pulled out for use as desired and then tucked back in discreetly. This is a patented technology by Vaprwear [15] [16].

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Pens - Vape pens have also been cleverly designed to actually function as writing implements, wherein the user just has to unscrew the top of the pen, insert a cartridge and then vape through the top of the pen. This product has been designed by CloudV Enterprises [17] [18] [19] [20]. The company also owns 3 patents on vaporizers.

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Imitation Jewellery - A cross-shaped pod vape by Desire Design works for stealth and covert vaping.

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START-UPS

The majority of start-ups in this area, being focused on design and functionality, are customizing the features of devices, so as to enable users to experience a completely new dimension in vaping.

A few start-ups are listed below:

Jouz – Founded in 2017, Jouz has launched multiple variants of its products in China. An HNB (heat-not-burnt) product, model Jouz 12, uses precise and consistent temperature control through a unique air channel design to extract maximum flavor [21].

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Vaportronix - Founded in 2014, with headquarters in Miami, Florida, the company has introduced the VQ, a patented phone case and vaporizer. The small VQStick fits perfectly inside the VQase and can be removed to vape, or puffed right from the case. This is a patented technology [22] [23] [24] [25].

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Loto Labs - Founded in 2014, with headquarters in Silicon Valley, the company has introduced an induction vaporizer, the Evoke. With a new heating system and premium materials, it features a Smart Vape platform that will allow people to connect the device to mobile phones to view usage and adjust the settings. This is a patented technology [26] [27].

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Voopoo – Founded in 2014, this start-up acquired an American brand, WOODY VAPES; and, along with GENE Chip Company, developed a high-end GENE.FAN chip. This technology, according to the website, avoids malfunctioning of the device and has a failure rate of only 6 in 10,000 [28].

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COLLABORATIONS

Ignite International, Ltd., in collaboration with Bo vaping, has launched a rechargeable vape pen system with Blood Orange and Tropical Fruit CBD (Cannabidiol) pods. This unique product line features a creative vaping design by Bo combined with the purest quality CBD oil by Ignite. This rechargeable vape pen pairs with disposable CBD pods that contain 1.5 millilitres of CBD oil, which is more than double the capacity of competitors in the space [29].

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Fontem Ventures, owner of the leading e-vapor brand, blu®, in collaboration with Purilum, LLC, a manufacturer of e-juice concentrates for vaping, has made an agreement to drive responsible innovation in the vaping space. Purilum will deliver a wide range of flavor concentrates, as well as provide finished e-liquids for Fontem Ventures’ preferred brand myblu™, the latest offering from blu. This collaboration enables addressing the adult consumer's desire for diverse choices of e-juices and flavors, while responsibly abiding by FDA regulations and rigorous internal product management standards [30].

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Vype, a UK vape brand, launched a small but powerful vape device, Pebble; which is aesthetically appealing and innovative in design. This device, developed in collaboration with Tinie Tempah, is puff-activated and provides a smooth vape experience with an all-day battery charge [31].

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Upcoming conferences:

Many conferences are being held worldwide on e-cigarettes/ vapes, with the following upcoming conferences listed below:

VAPE EXPOJapan
Scheduled to be held during 19-21 March 2020, VAPE EXPO Japan is an exhibition annually held in Chiba (Tokyo). In 2019, more than 5000 visitors visited the expo, which had a total of 57 exhibitors [32].

IECIE E-Cig Expo - China
Scheduled to be held during 24-26 April 2020, IECIE-Shenzhen is the most influential e-cig expo in the world. It is estimated to attract 90000+ professional visitors from 80+ countries and be the best platform for global e-cig technologies and brands for product promotion [33].

Vapitaly – International Vaping Exhibition - Italy
Scheduled to be held 23-25 May 2020, this expo is dedicated to consumers, vaping enthusiasts and Italian and international industry professionals. Vapitaly has become the annual B2C/B2B appointment for the vaping industry [34].

World Vape Show - UAE
Scheduled to be held during 3-5 June 2020, this is the first international vape expo and conference in the UAE, and will provide manufacturers with a unique opportunity to showcase products to thousands of international retailers, wholesalers, distributors and consumers in Dubai [35].

With the UAE government having recently legalised the sale of e-cigarettes, vaping devices and e-liquids to support efforts to curb smoking and curtail the online sale of unregulated devices, the World Vape Show is a new gateway to the sale of next-generation vaping devices in the Middle East.

Interesting patents:

Listed below are some interesting patents that address problems related to battery, processor, microchip, etc. in vaping devices.

Improvements in battery

Recent research in the battery area has been towards improving battery life and capacity, providing safety from overheating, over charging, fire, explosion, and other modes of failure. The following are some sample patents in the battery area:

US 20160360787A1 by BAILEY WILLIAM CHRISTOPHER discloses
a super capacitor vaping electronic cigarette with integrated power pack. This device provides an on-demand power-supply with improved battery life with decreased charging time

The super capacitor includes, a display connected to controller, a power source, capacitors connected in series. A super capacitor auto balancing (SAB) MOSFET is interconnected with another super capacitor, resistor, controller, and power source. The (SAB) MOSFET is used to keep the super capacitors in balance while wired in series. This makes super capacitors safe to use.

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US 10405582B2 by PAX LABS INC., discloses
a device having a reservoir, a heater, a mouthpiece, a capacitive lip sensor, and a controller. The lip sensor is configured to output an instantaneous capacitance reading and a controller to regulate the temperature of the heater when it determines that there is a difference between the baseline capacitance and the instantaneous capacitance reading received from the capacitive lip sensor.

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WO 2015107551A2 by GODFREY PHILLIPS INDIA LTD, discloses
The lithium ion battery for electronic devices specially for vaping devices and E-cigarettes has, a cathodic material, an anodic material, an electrolyte, a separator, and current collectors. The cathodic material may consist of lithium cobalt oxide, lithium iron phosphate, lithium manganese cobalt oxide, lithium nickel cobalt Aluminium oxide or mixtures. Nitrogen doped carbon nanotubes, fullerenes and graphene are added as part of the anode preparation. The separator material is any one of polyethylene, polypropylene, fluorinated co-polymers. The electrolytic material is selected from an ionic liquid including LiPF6, LiBF4, LiC104, organic carbonate liquid, a liquid polymer or a gel electrolyte or mixtures thereof or a solid and is selected from a polymeric material, including Lithium salt in conjunction with lanthanum, stannum and germanium, zirconium, tantalum and titanium or mixtures thereof. The collector material is Aluminum or Copper, which further comprises thin coatings of metal or inter-metallic compounds selected from the group comprising, iron, nickel, titanium, copper.

The battery has a charging capacity of 160 to 190 mAh/g, a potential window of 3 to 4.5 v, with a discharge rate of 10 to 15 times the battery capacity and is capable of cycling for 300 to 500 cycles.

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Processors and Microchips

With vaping gaining popularity, the users may want to mix and experiment with variety of flavors and ingredients that will offer unique vaping experiences, but the current devices offer only two to three flavors. This has led to an increasing demand for improved processors and microchips. Listed are a few patents that disclose customized blending of flavors.

WO 2017180660A1 by ALTOPA INC. discloses an on-demand, app-controlled (IoT), portable, microfluid mixing and dispensing device. A user can select a recipe from a smartphone App, HTML 5 website, etc. and modify the recipe and can order the device to produce it using an OBD interface. The device has a removable microfluidic mixer chip configured to receive and meter microfluidic amounts of different fluids, a chip heater, a controller configured to electronically communicate with the blend application implemented on the mobile compute device and receive blend application instructions.

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EP 3223638A4 by ALTRIA CLIENT SERVICES LL, discloses an electronic vaping device configured to execute an electronic vaping operating system and object code written using an e-vaping programming language and an electronic vaping Application Programming Interface (API). The device contains stored computer readable instructions relating to an electronic vaping operating system (OS), a realtime kernel configured to operate the electronic vaping device and execute object code related to the device’s functionality, and a processor configured to execute the OS computer readable instructions. The device provides the benefit of accommodating different elements in an e-vaping device, such as different reservoirs, batteries, chargers, external software applications, etc., without being specially programmed and manufactured for each of the different elements.

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Long lasting atomizer coils

Heating coil atomizers used in vaping devices have been having many issues with their performance and maintenance. Engineering challenges remain in providing improved atomizers for these devices. Some patents that claim to have address these challenges are listed below:

EP 3133942B1 by FONTEM HOLDINGS 1 BV discloses a vaping device and electronic cigarette consisting of an atomizer having a coil-less heating element. The heating element has SiO2 or carbon fibers connected to porous leads. The device has a coil-less heating element and is also wickless. In this type of device, the liquid flows directly from the liquid supplying unit to the fiber materials or the leads and then to the heating section of the fibers.

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EP 3319466A4 by JUUL LABS INC. discloses an improved atomizer design of a vaporizer, wherein the design can be an air-over-coil atomizer, a porous filter atomizer, or a baffled filter atomizer.The atomizer is configured to a breath-modulated valve incorporated in a vaporizing apparatus. The breath-modulated valve replaces a conventional wick, allowing flow from the reservoir into the atomizer when a user inhales from a mouthpiece of the device.

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Flavor intensity

As a variety of e-liquids or e-juices hit the market, the demand for improved flavor intensity is increasing. Patents that claim to modulate flavor intensity are listed below:

US 20160338407A1 by KERDEMELIDIS ANDREW discloses A programmable vaporizer device provided with a controller which is directly or wirelessly connected to the atomiser for generating a pre-determined intensity over a chosen duration. The device has touch-enabled user interface or push-button means for enabling the same. The device also has a communication link with a remote host configured to download one or more flavor profiles to programmable controller and upload the vaporizer device usage information to the remote host for sharing with other users.

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US 10405580B2 by ALTRIA CLIENT SERVICES LLC. discloses a mechanically-adjustable e-vaping device flavor assembly that has an exposure control mechanism using a control circuitry for generating desired intensity of vapor.

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Alternative heating elements/techniques

It has been observed that the atomizer frequently causes the metallic coil to oxidize, degrade, volatilize, and/or corrode, thereby contaminating the vapor with trace metals. The following patents address the above challenges associated with the atomiser.

US 2019356047A1 by INTREPID BRANDS LLC An atomizer assembly having a radio-frequency (RF) heating medium, a RF signal generator, a power amplifier coupled with it to receive the generated signal and amplify the same. The RF heating medium is configured to transmit energy produced to the vaporizable substance thereby heating it.

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WO 2020020970A1 from Japan Tobacco discloses an aerosol generating system having an induction heated susceptor. The device has an induction coil arranged to generate a time varying electromagnetic field for heating, a controller arranged to detect the self-resonant frequency of the induction coil and control the operation of the aerosol generating system. With this technology, selection of an appropriate heating profile is ensured for different types of aerosol generating articles.

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Integration into Smartphones

Vaporcade has built a device that combines two different technologies into one revolutionary device, the Jupiter IO3, a smartphone integrated with built in vaporizer that will allow one to make calls and text as well as smoke one’s favourite e-flavours, or even help one quit smoking. One can attach a red liquid cartridge to the smartphone through an opening under a little plastic cover off the top and a mouthpiece to it, to smoke right out of the smartphone. The phone comes with a button to regulate the heat and get a stronger pull. This device was displayed at the 2016 CES show.

Vaporcade aims at transforming the marketplace by creating a community based on tech, coffee, health, and ‘all things vape’. There is no current information available about Jupiter. All that is known is that it is just a generic 3G Android phone with a vape installed on the top of the phone [36].

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Predicting new products in the market

It is known that Trademark (TM) applications are filed by companies prior to a product launch. Based on recent Trademarks applied for/ registered, we can predict that the following products could hit the market in the near future:

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Recently, a Trademark application was filed by PHILIP MORRIS PRODUCTS S.A. in December 2019 and another one by BRITISH AMERICAN TOBACCO (BRANDS) LIMITED during end January 2020.

The class under which the applications were filed is International class 034 which covers items such as Tobacco, tobacco products, cigars, cigarettes, snus, tobacco substitutes (not for medical purposes), electronic cigarettes, electronic devices and their parts for the purpose of heating cigarettes or tobacco in order to release nicotine-containing aerosol for inhalation, liquid nicotine solutions for use in electronic cigarettes etc.[37][38].

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Japan Tobacco (JT) also filed a Trademark application during early January 2020. JT has also filed for different trademarks to protect MEVIUS, its most popular brand.

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TM application filed on 2020-01-07 by JAPAN TOBACCO INC.

JT has filed for different trademarks to protect MEVIUS, a very popular brand

CLASS STATEMENT 034, Tobacco, smoking tobacco, tobacco-pipes tobacco, a hand-rolled cigarette, cigarillos, liquid solutions for use in electronic cigarettes, heating type tobacco, electronic cigarettes, other tobacco’s, smokers' articles, a cigarette tube, other smokers' articles, matches[39].

Regulation of electronic cigarettes and Vaping devices

The laws on e-cigarettes and vaping devices vary significantly from country to country.

United States:

Laws in the US vary from one state to another. Per FDA regulations of 2016, e-cigarettes, e-liquids and associated products cannot be advertised as safer than other tobacco products unless they have received modified risk tobacco product (MRTP) status. In July 2017, the USFDA delayed the compliance deadline for regulating e-cigarettes mandated by the Deeming Rule to 2022, giving the industry five more years to file applications to demonstrate that their products are safe alternatives to conventional cigarettes and that the products are not targeting minors [40]. On June 5, 2018, San Francisco voters made history when they elected to ban flavored vaping products and menthol cigarettes. While the city is the first to adopt a flavor ban of e-liquids, other cities such as Chicago, New York and Providence have taken steps to regulate e-liquids by restricting the sale of products to adult-only stores and city lawmakers have begun discussing the implementation of their own flavor bans. As of August 2018, the MRTP status has not been granted to any e-cigarette or e-liquid product. Though no companies have applied for an MRTP permit for their vaping products, similar heat-not-burn tobacco products have been denied MRTP status on the grounds that they are not safer than traditional cigarettes [41].

Japan:

In Japan, sale of e-cigarettes containing nicotine is banned. Non-nicotine e-cigarettes are sold to adults. No regulation exists for non-nicotine e-cigarettes in Japan. Heat-not-burn tobacco products like IQOS and PloomTech are completely legal and are widely used. [42]

Europe:

With effect from 2014, new regulations forbid advertising of e-cigarettes, set limits on maximum concentrations of nicotine in liquids, limit maximum volumes of liquid that can be sold, require child-proof and tamper-proof packaging of liquid, set requirements on purity of ingredients, require that the devices deliver consistent doses of vapor, require disclosure of ingredients and nicotine content, and empower regulators to act if the regulations are violated [43].

United Kingdom:

With effect from 20 May 2017, the new requirements restrict e-cigarette tanks to a capacity of no more than 2ml, restrict the maximum volume of nicotine-containing e-liquid for sale in one refill container to 10ml, restrict e-liquids to a nicotine strength of no more than 20mg/ml, require nicotine-containing products or their packaging to be child-resistant and tamper evident, ban certain ingredients including colourings, caffeine and taurine, include new labelling requirements and warnings, and require all e-cigarettes and e-liquids to be notified to MHRA before they can be sold [44].

CONCLUSION

With the availability of different vaping devices and technologies, as well as a variety of flavours and the flexibility to modify compositions, vaping is very much open to need-based personalization. One can also increase / decrease nicotine levels, or even select zero nicotine, which is attractive for existing or new users who want to explore the experience of vaping. The incorporation of vegetable oil and of nicotine salts has further added a new dimension to the experience. Also, Artificial intelligence (AI) will play a major role that will involve learning from the users’ consumption patterns to control various aspects such as concentration, vaping time etc., and yet enable them to feel or attain high levels of satisfaction with vaping. Thus, the vaping industry is looking towards building concrete solutions through the use of advanced technologies to provide a customized experience to users and also overcome the regulatory hurdles that may challenge their growth plans.

References
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Disclaimer:
  • This document has been created for educational and instructional purposes only
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  • We claim the right of fair use as ascertained by the author

Authors

Mr. Vikramaditya

Mr. Harshavardhan