Japanese technology company Donut Robotics has created a face mask capable of translating languages in real time, transforming what has recently become a widely-used safety precaution into an innovative communication device.
The C-FACE smart mask can cleverly transmit messages, before translating them from Japanese into eight other languages.
Donut Robotics hopes the mask will prove useful ‘in a society where people live apart from each other’, and is aiming the products at a mass market that simply didn’t exist prior to the pandemic.
You can check out the C-FACE mask for yourself below:
The C-FACE mask fits neatly over your standard face mask, using Bluetooth to connect to a smartphone and tablet application that can then transcribe speech into text and calls.
This nifty application can also help to amplify the wearer’s voice if needs be, capable of connecting with smartphones up to a distance of 32 feet (10 meters).
At the time of writing, only sound and letters are available. However, going forward, Donut Robotics hope to develop it into image systems, describing the mask as a ‘new communication device in the rapidly progressing online and digital world’.
Chief Executive of Donut Robotics, Taisuke Ono, told :
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.
We still have many situations where we have to meet in person. In this new normal … the mask and the app are very helpful.
Engineers at Donut Robotics reportedly thought up the idea while searching for a product to help keep the business afloat during the ongoing health crisis.
At the time when the global pandemic first struck, Donut Robotics had just finalised a contract to supply robot guides and translators to Haneda Airport in Tokyo.
However, in light of the difficulties now facing the air travel industry, such products now face uncertainty, and the company had to adapt in order to survive.
Due for release in January 2021, the mask is reportedly worth an approximate 3980 yen (£28.49), and will cost around 4378 yen including tax (£31.34). Wearers will also be charged a monthly fee for the translation and minutes functions.
The first 5,000 C-FACE masks will be shipped to buyers in Japan from September onwards, with Donut Robotics also intending to sell them throughout China, the US and Europe.