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This Inexpensive New Smart Mask Can Amplify the Speaker’s Voice and Translate Speech into 8 Languages


Photo by Donut Robotics

A Japanese robotics company has developed a smart mask that can amplify voices, transcribe dictation, and translate speech into eight different languages—and they will be available to the public as soon as September.

The C-Mask was designed by Japanese tech startup Donut Robotics to improve communication between airline workers and supermarket employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The mask, which is Bluetooth-connected to the user’s phone, is capable of translating Japanese into Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Indonesian, English, Spanish, and French.

The company originally developed their AI-based translation technology for their “Cinnamon” robot to assist international travelers at the airport. Since most of the nation’s airports were forced to close after the coronavirus outbreaks, the company applied their software to masks so that industry workers and healthcare providers could speak more clearly from behind protective glass barriers and face coverings.

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To fund the production of their invention, Donut Robotics launched a crowdsourcing campaign on Japanese fundraising website Fundinno back in June. According to CNN, the company managed to raise 28 million yen ($265,000) in just 37 minutes.

After concluding another successful round of crowdfunding in July, Donut Robotics says their first 5,000 to 10,000 masks will be distributed across Japan in December. Each of the masks is expected to cost between $40 to $50.

That being said, the company also hopes to expand their distribution overseas to the UK and US by April 2021.

(WATCH the Reuters interview below)

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