Introducing the C-Face Smart Mask.

By Cailey Rizzo
July 08, 2020
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This facemask has gone high-tech with its "smart" capabilities.

A robotics company in Japan has developed a face mask capable of not only protecting someone from the spread of infectious diseases like coronavirus but of translating their speech into eight different languages.

The C-FACE Smart Mask from Donut Robotics fits over standard face masks and can translate a wearer’s speech from Japanese into English, French, Indonesian, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Thai, and Vietnamese.

The mask connects to a smartphone or tablet app via Bluetooth which then translates speech into text messages, dictates speech, and makes calls. The mask is plastic.

"We have redefined the 'mask' that has been protecting human health for a long time with the latest technology," the companie's website reads.

Before the pandemic, Donut Robotics had just secured a contract to supply Tokyo’s Haneda Airport with robot guides and translators. But as the future of air travel became uncertain throughout the world, the company wanted to develop a product that could be used during and in the aftermath of coronavirus.

Engineers decided to take the translation software and adapt it to a mask, and after a few prototypes, the mask went online to seek funding.

“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,” the chief executive of Donut Robotics, Taisuke Ono, told Reuters.

The mask has already raised more than $260,000 on crowdfunding website Fundinno. It is expected to be released to the public in September. The masks are being sold for about $40 apiece. The first 5,000 will be sold in Japan but future runs could be sold in China, Europe and the US in the near future.

Donut Robotics plans to use its funding to develop the masks further, possibly adding AR or VR components, to help translate from images, not just speech.