Cobalt Design for HumidiFlyer Technologies <em>HumidiFlyer</em> designed 1993–2017; polycarbonate, polyester elastic, polyurethane foam, silicone rubber. Courtesy of HumidiFlyer Technologies<br/>
© Cobalt Design

Cobalt Design for HumidiFlyer Technologies

Cobalt Design
(est. 1996, Melbourne)
HumidiFlyer Technologies
(est. 2008, Melbourne)

Paul Aberhart was an international flight attendant for eleven years, which led him to conceive a device that counteracted de-hydration, fatigue, illness and jetlag caused by the lack of humidity on long-haul flights. Partnering with Cobalt Design, he created HumidiFlyer, a mask that uses moisture from the wearer’s own breath to rehydrate their air supply.

Aberhart developed the first version of the HumidiFlyer in 1993. Following early product testing, market research and prototyping, in 2017 he engaged North Melbourne–based industrial design firm Cobalt Design to create the mask’s current iteration. Building upon Aberhart’s innovative idea, they refined the device into a more wearable product for frequent fliers.

Within the mask is a special medical hygroscopic filter, powered solely by the user’s normal breathing cycle. Foam traps expired moisture from the passenger’s exhalation and in turn humidifies dry cabin air as it is inhaled back in through the mask using an open weave to ensure no residual carbon dioxide remains inside. A robust polycarbonate shell is edged with flexible, over-moulded silicone that conforms to any wearer’s face, providing a secure yet comfortable seal. The device is simple to clean and maintain, with a removable and washable filter that keeps the mask fresh for ongoing air travel.

Founded in 1996, Cobalt Design is a creative design and engineering group, consulting in new product development across diverse industries and technologies, including scientific and medical devices, transport design, consumer products, sporting goods and capital equipment. Its team of more than thirty people includes industrial designers and engineers across various disciplines, including mechanical and product design, electronics and mechatronics. Their products have won Good Design Awards (2021, 2018), the Sir William Hudson Award (2020), Victorian Premier’s Design Awards (2020, 2015) and the Design Institute of Australia Prize (2016). The group was inducted into the Victorian Manufacturing Hall of Fame in 2016.