Ever wanted to speak another language fluently?
Or make a phone call without breaching any face-covering laws?
The new C-Mask from Japanese start-up Donut Robotics allows wearers to stay connected to their smartphones, make calls remotely, send text messages and even speak up to eight languages.
The white silicone mask fits over standard face masks and connects via Bluetooth to smartphones, which can then transcribe speech into text messages, make calls, or amplify the mask wearer’s voice.
“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,” Donut Robotics chief executive Taisuke Ono told Reuters.
Donut Robotics first developed the translation software for a robot called Cinnamon. But when the pandemic hit, the project was put on hold.
That’s when the team’s engineers came up with the idea to use their software in a face mask.
Sensing an opportunity, the company raised more than $370,000 in less than 40 minutes in June on Japanese crowd raising site, Fundinno.
The second round of funding raised another $750,000.
Although the C-Mask doesn’t directly protect the wearer from the virus, it is designed to be worn above a normal face mask.
The embedded microphone translates into eight languages including Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, English, Spanish and French.
The first wave of distribution is expected to take place in Japan, with 5000 to 10,000 masks available by December, CNN reports.