Tokyo: As face coverings change into the norm amid the coronavirus pandemic, Japanese startup Donut Robotics has developed an internet-connected “smart mask” that may transmit messages and translate from Japanese into eight different languages.
The white plastic “c-mask” matches over customary face masks and connects by way of Bluetooth to a smartphone and tablet software that may transcribe speech into textual content messages, make calls, or amplify the masks 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,” mentioned Taisuke Ono, the chief govt of Donut Robotics.
Donut Robotics` engineers got here up with the thought for the masks as they searched for a product to assist the corporate survive the pandemic. When the coronavirus struck, it had simply secured a contract to provide robotic guides and translators to Tokyo`s Haneda Airport, a product that faces an unsure future after the collapse of air journey.
Donut Robotics` first 5,000 c-masks will probably be shipped to consumers in Japan beginning in September, with Ono seeking to promote in China, the United States and Europe too. There has been robust curiosity, he mentioned.
At about $40 per masks, Donut Robotics is aiming at a mass market that didn’t exist till just a few months in the past. One intention, he mentioned, is to generate income from subscriber companies provided by way of an app that customers will obtain.
Donut Robotics constructed a prototype linked masks inside a month by adapting translation software program developed for its robotic and a masks design that one of many firm`s engineers, Shunsuke Fujibayashi, created 4 years in the past for a scholar undertaking to interpret speech by mapping face muscle groups.
Ono raised 28 million yen ($260,000) for growth by promoting Donut Robotics shares by way of Japanese crowdfunding web site Fundinno.
“We raised our initial target of 7 million yen within three minutes and stopped after 37 minutes when we had reached 28 million yen,” he mentioned.