COVID-19 Pandemic has impacted each and every country around the world and covering your face with a mask has been noted as the most effective method to protect yourself from getting infected with the virus.
As covering your face with a mask has become the new normal amid the coronavirus pandemic, Donut Robotics a Tokyo-based startup has developed an internet-connected ‘smart mask’ that can transmit messages while covering your face and it can also translate from Japanese into eight other languages.
The connected face mask dubbed as ‘c-mask’ is a mask made up of plastic material that can fit over standard human face and it connects to a smartphone or tablet using Bluetooth application that can transcribe speech into text messages, make calls, or amplify the mask wearer’s voice.
Engineers at Donut Robotics came up with this idea for the mask in April that could help the company survive the pandemic. The company also secured a contract to supply robot guides and translators to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, but the product faces an uncertain future since the air travel has been restricted.
“We worked hard for years to develop a robot and we have used that technology to create a product that responds to how the coronavirus has reshaped society,” said Taisuke Ono, the chief executive of Donut Robotics.
The company developed a prototype of the c-mask within a month by adapting the translation software developed for its robot and a mask that was designed by one of the company’s engineers, Shunsuke Fujibayashi, four years ago for a student project to interpret speech by mapping face muscles.
Donut Robotics’ c-mask is priced at about $40 and the company plans to ship first 5,000 c-masks to buyers in Japan and later to China, the United States, and Europe. The company aims to generate revenue from subscriber services offered via an app that users will download.
The company has raised 28 million yen for the development of the product by selling shares of Donut Robotics through the Japanese crowdfunding site Fundinno.
“We raised our initial target of 7 million yen within three minutes and stopped after 37 minutes when we had reached 28 million yen,” he said.