Chris Hosmer ’99 creates a revolutionary new COVID-19 mask

Syracuse University VPA alum Chris Hosmer making a presentation

Five years ago, Chris Hosmer ’99, (VPA Industrial and Interaction Design), co-founded an air wearables company dedicated to innovating consumer respiratory protection because his own children were suffering health reactions due to pervasive air pollution.  

Since 2015 that company, AirPop, has been committed to creating the best consumer experience for PPE masks. “Because our global team has been assisting healthcare systems and municipal governments in China and the US since the COVID-19 outbreak began, we’ve developed valuable insight into the extreme needs of, and ideal mask features for, front line workers,” says Hosmer.  “That includes N95-equivalent filtration, 2-way respiratory protection that is long wearing, high performing, exceedingly breathable, extremely comfortable and skin friendly.”

The newest AirPop mask, developed specifically for COVID-19, is now available for shipping to the United States.  The AirPop Light SE is an entirely new kind of mask, custom designed specifically for essential workers, as well as those returning to work and other settings. “It exceeds the N95 filtration standard and offers the same barrier protection as a 3-ply medical mask,” says Hosmer.  “It is professional-grade protection with consumer level comfort and lasts 40 hours. It protects against fine particle pollution, environmental disasters like wildfire smoke and airborne pathogens down to 0.3μ in diameter such as droplets and aerosols.”

The new AirPop Light SE is available here

AirPop was named a World Changing Idea by Fast Company magazine (May, 2018) and was also honored by SXSW Startup Accelerator in the Health & Wearables track. The company is focused on healthy breathing solutions for the 5B+ people living in pervasive air pollution globally. AirPop is a strategic partner to Xiaomi’s product eco-system platform and Chris was the first foreign founder to be invested in by Xiaomi. 

Hosmer is an American designer and entrepreneur with deep experience in applied innovation and business transformation. Previously he served as a Managing Director of Continuum (now EPAM Continuum), the global innovation design consultancy based in Boston, MA which was founded by Gianfranco Zaccai, a Syracuse University VPA School of Design alum. 

From 2000-2008 Chris was an Envisioner in the firm’s pathbreaking Design Strategy Group which innovated new businesses for clients of the firm’s product, service and brand offering. DSG was an early incubator of what would become widely known as Design Thinking and which ushered in the era of human-centered design. Chris then founded and managed Continuum’s China office in 2009 and led the firm’s Asia-Pacific portfolio until 2015. His work centered on China’s unique mobile-first, direct-to-consumer internet companies and deeply understanding the emerging middle class consumer that is driving domestic demand for rapid innovation.

During his six years in Shanghai, he and his core team vastly expanded Continuum’s services in S.Korea, India, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines. As part of the firm’s global leadership team he was responsible for strategic partnerships for Greater China and Southeast Asia and also led brand marketing and experience strategy for the firm’s multinational client partners entering emerging markets.

Chris now facilitates a full stack creative network of collaborators called Rarebits. Comprised of experienced researchers, strategists, technologists, designers, marketers and prototypers, Rarebits primarily focuses on the front end of innovation and back end productization, two areas that are notoriously difficult for organizations to outsource.  Rarebits leverages its cross-border, curated hardware, software and manufacturing partners in Silicon Valley and the Shenzhen ecosystem.

He was named one of the Top 50 Innovators by China Business News Weekly and was a regular guest columnist for Forbes China in The Business of Innovation section. He’s been featured in Fast Company, South China Morning Post, Global Times and Business Review. Chris has received numerous international design awards including Fast Company, SXSW, IF, Reddot, Good Design, Core77 and IDEA and has served on multiple design juries including Singapore Good Design Award, Red Star Design Awards, China Good Design Awards and CBN Innovation and Design Awards. He speaks regularly about emerging market innovation, technology trends and designing humane consumer experiences. 

He currently advises consumer startups in Silicon Valley and China on product-brand experience strategy as well as serves as Innovator-In-Residence at Shenzhen Valley Ventures, a software-driven hardware-based Venture Capital firm with offices in Shenzhen and Palo Alto.

Chris served on the Design Management Institute’s Board of Advisors and currently serves on the Executive Board for Xunyi and Rarebit Media.

Chris graduated Summa Cum Laude from Syracuse University in 1999 with a B.ID Industrial and Interaction Design. He now lives in Berkeley, CA.

Find more info on AirPop here: and