Japanese Robotic Startup Invents Smart Mask That Doubles as a Translator

c-face mask

If you can describe 2020 with one symbol, it would be the face mask. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have to wear face masks to save ourselves. This has led to industries around the world cranking up production of all types of masks, and this one is the weirdest one yet.

A Japanese startup, Donut Robotics created a smart mask, which is designed to make communication and social distancing easier.

Unlike the analogue face masks we have on the market today, the C-FACE smart mask feels very 2020. It is accompanied by an app and it can transcribe dictation, translate speech into eight different languages and amplify the wearer’s voice. The translation feature is available for Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Indonesian, English, Spanish and French.

However, there is an issue with the mask. It has cutouts at the front so it is not designed for virus laden droplets like traditional masks. Instead, it is designed to be worn over a standard face mask as per the startup’s CEO, Taisuke Ono. It is made of white plastic and silicone with an embedded microphone that connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth.

The project was funded in part by the Japanese crowdfunding site Funddido and they ended up raising $260,000 in 37 minutes. The mask will cost $40 a piece. The company’s first masks will be shipped to buyers in September.

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a boom in face masks sales and they have become a necessity rather than a specialized tool by medical professionals. It is not uncommon to see people wearing cloth masks, surgical masks and even the more specialized N95 masks for better protection against viruses like SARS-CoV-2.