We’ve seen plenty of innovations developed to cope with the new normal resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. One such innovation that recently made its debut is a face mask attachment that functions as a voice-to-text transcriber and translator.
Created by Japanese startup company called Donut Robotics, the plastic attachment – known as the “c-mask” – fits over standard face masks and is able to be connected to a mobile device via Bluetooth. It features a unique face muscle mapping technology that interprets speech, which would later be transmitted to the connected device to be amplified, transcribed or translated in real-time. Processing these actions will be the c-mask’s companion app that is installed on the smartphone or tablet, which is also capable of translating 8 different languages including English, French, Spanish and so on.
Company CEO Taisuke Ono told Reuters that Donut Robotics engineers came up with the idea for the mask while researching for plausible products to develop during the pandemic. As with other businesses affected by COVID-19, the company resorted to produce the c-mask to ensure its survivability during trying times.
The company originally secured a contract to supply robots that function as guides and translators to Haneda Airport in Tokyo prior to the coronavirus attack, but the deal now remains in limbo as air travel is still faced with restrictions. Donut Robotics then salvaged some of the technology used for the robots to develop a prototype of the c-mask within a month’s time.
“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,” said Ono.
The c-mask will be sold at JPY3,980 (~RM160) and is slated to be released in fall or winter this year. Additionally, Ono added that a monthly subscription service for the product’s speech function via a downloadable app is planned as a means to generate revenue for the company.