When nations across the globe began facing the growing danger of the Covid-19 pandemic, it became evident that Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) would be in short supply. In March 2020, the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) admitted that the country struggles to meet even a fraction of the demand for respirator face masks.
In response to this serious need, a diverse team consisting of engineers, designers, clinicians, technicians, molders, among other entities, concentrated their intellects and efforts towards the rapid deployment and mass manufacture of an “open hardware, reusable, sterilizable, modular, and filter-media agnostic face mask that aims to hit the N95 efficacy criteria.” The project coalesced from a collaboration through Helpful Engineering, a volunteer-run nonprofit dedicated to aiding the fight against Covid-19, though Open Standard Respirator currently spearheads the project organization.
Co-leads of the project include MIT Media Lab postdoctoral researcher Matt Carney, Aaron Cantrell (Principal Designer at Cofab Design), and Philip Brown (PhD, Wake Forest Baptist Health). An interview with Carney on the front porch of his home in Somerville, MA, sheds light on specific aspects of the creation process.