A Japanese robotic startup has unveiled a smart mask, called 'C-Mask', which lets users connect to their smartphones and make calls remotely, without needing to access their smartphones. The mask also has a speech recognition technology, that helps people send text messages via speech without needing to access their phones at all. According to its creator, Donut Robotics, the key objective is to make interpersonal communications easier, especially with social distancing norms in place due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The mask is built of plastic and silicone, with breathable pores to ensure comfort of users.
The key highlight of C-Mask's abilities is the ability to translate from Japanese into eight other languages, including Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Indonesian, English, Spanish, and French. It also helps amplify the user's voice, in case the person they are talking to cannot hear them through the mask. It has an embedded microphone that connects to the user's smartphone via Bluetooth, to help conduct voice calls and speech messages.
Donut Robotics' proprietary translation software was created for a robot called Cinnamon, which was part of an initiative by the company to provide live translation and speech services for visitors at Tokyo's Haneda Airport. However, the project took a back seat when the Covid-19 pandemic broke out. To make the most of this time, Donut Robotics CEO, Taisuke Ono said that his company's engineers soon decided to use the software in a face mask, which he believes could be a hit during the pandemic.
The smart C-Mask will be unveiled in Japan, with 5,000 units shipping from September. It will cost from 3,980 Yen (~Rs 2,800), in order to attract more mainstream buyers. Eventually, Donut Robotics aims to sell the mask in USA, Europe and China, as the Covid-19 crisis still continues at a persistent pace. The C-Mask can reportedly be used to setup online meetings, book medical appointments and taking notes. In the near future, the company has stated that it aims to release more augmented and virtual reality features to add to the mask's abilities as well.