Japanese startup develops ‘internet-connected’ face mask

Yolanda Curtis
June 29, 2020

A company called Donut Robotics and based in Japan has developed the c-mask, which is essentially a smart mask that comes with a series of features powered by an Internet connection. The mask can also send messages via speech.

Donut Robotics' engineers came up with the idea for the mask as they searched for a product to help the company survive the pandemic. The company suffered a setback when air travel came to a halt due to Coronavirus induced lockdown throughout the world as the company had signed a deal with Tokyo's Haneda airport to provide robot guides.

The technology, called the C-Mask, fits over standard fabric masks and connects via Bluetooth to an app that enables it to transcribe speech to text messages.

The Japanese startup is working on a new device that can make the face mask quite hi-tech.

Regarding the launch of this mask, Donut Robotics CEO Taisuke Ono said, "We have worked hard for many years to prepare the robot and now we are using the same technology in infection-fighting products 5,000 units of 'C-Mask" will be delivered in the market by September. All is not lost; however, as technologists at their company were able to re-engineer their robot translator technology and allow it to be used in their newly-developed "smart masks". Ono says the company hopes to sell the masks in China, the United States and Europe in the near future.

At about $40 per mask, Donut Robotics is aiming at a mass market that did not exist until a few months ago. Ono said that the mask was developed four years ago and was meant to interpret speech by analyzing facial muscles. Another goal, Ono revealed, is to generate enough income from subscriber services they intend to offer through an app that users can download.

Ono raised JPY 28 million (roughly Rs. 1.98 crores) for development by selling Donut Robotics shares through the Japanese crowdfunding site Fundinno. The group's claims to have achieved the initial target of raising 7 million yen in just 3 minutes and 49 seconds, and stopped after 37 minutes after reaching the 28 million yen target.

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