Japanese startup Donut Robotics' CEO Taisuke Ono shows the C-FACE Smart Mask in action. Reuters
Japanese company Donut Robotics has developed a face mask with "smart" capabilities, including the ability to translate what the wearer is saying into eight different languages.
The C-FACE Smart Mask still protects from the spread of COVID-19, but can also translate the wearer's speech from Japanese into Vietnamese, English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Thai, Indonesian, and French.
It works by connecting to a smartphone app via Bluetooth to translate the words into text messages and can also dictate speech and make calls.
Taisuke Ono, chief executive of Donut Robotics, said, "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 white plastic face mask was developed as the company searched for a product to help them survive the pandemic. When the pandemic struck Donut Robotics had finalized a deal to supply robot guides and translators to Tokyo's Haneda Airport, but this deal remains up in the air.
Estimated to cost $40 per mask, the first 5,000 masks will be available to Japanese buyers in September before expanding to China, the US, and Europe, too.