Japanese researchers create an “intelligent” mask to protect themselves from COVID-19, with an integrated speaker and software that can translate speech into eight different languages
- A Japanese technology company has developed a new “smart” Bluetooth-based mask
- It will have a built-in speaker and translation software for eight languages
- The mask is currently slated for release in Japan, but the company claims that there has been strong interest from buyers in the United States, Europe and China.
A Japanese technology company has developed a new Bluetooth-based smart mask that uses a speaker to amplify a person’s voice.
Called ‘c-mask’, the device can also convert a person’s speech into text and then translate it into eight different languages via a smartphone app.
The mask was developed by Donut Robotics, which initially raised seven million yen, or about $ 260,000, to finance its development through the Japanese crowdfunding site Fundinno.
Donut Robotics has developed a new smart mask to protect against COVID-19 transmission, which also contains a built-in speaker to amplify a person’s voice and connects to a smartphone app that can translate speech into eight languages
According to Donut, around 5,000 masks are currently scheduled to be produced and distributed in Japan in September, where they will retail for 3,980 yen, or about $ 37.
The company will also charge an additional monthly subscription fee to access translation services, according to a Japan Today report, although the exact price has not been announced.
Supported languages include English, Chinese, Spanish, French, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese and Indonesian.
Users will also be able to use the mask’s built-in microphone to create business meeting recordings which will then be stored on the connected smartphone.
The mask has been designed as a cap intended to slide on any standard commercial mask used to protect against the COVID-19 transmission, with the straps crossing two small slits on both sides.
The mask was based, in part, on one of the company’s previous projects, a desktop support robot called “Cinnamon” which was used at the reception and customer service stands to answer basic questions.
Called ‘c-mask’, the device is a shell that can be inserted in any traditional mask. 5,000 masks will be sent to Japanese buyers in September and will retail for around $ 37, or 3,980 yen
The mask will convert the wearer’s speech into text and then translate it into French, Chinese, Spanish, Thai, Indonesian, Korean, English or Japanese via a smartphone app
Donut Robotics claims to have also received strong interest in “mask c” from buyers in the United States, Europe and China
“We have worked hard for years to develop a robot and have used that technology to create a product that responds to how coronavirus has reshaped the company,” said Taisuke Ono of Donut Robotics.
Donut eventually hopes that he will be able to release the mask outside of Japan and says he has received strong interest from buyers in the United States, Europe and China.
The c-mask could evolve to support other functions, including some augmented reality features, which Donut says will be possible using an integrated Wifi receiver.
However, the company didn’t just describe how AR features would be integrated into the mask.