The scope of technology these days is constantly expanding. We have smartphones, smart watches, smart glasses, smart speakers, smart displays, smart homes, and more. And now, although the COVID-19 pandemic still affects several countries, we have a smart mask. Developed in Japan, Reuters reports that the mask connects wirelessly to the internet through a smartphone.
The smart mask was created by the Japanese startup Donut Robotics and can spread messages and translate Japanese into eight different languages. The user places the white plastic “c mask” over a normal face mask and connects to their phone via Bluetooth. Those who wear the mask can send text messages, make calls, and raise the volume of the user’s voice.
Donut Robotics came up with the idea out of desperation, as the company needed a product to sell during the pandemic. The coronavirus outbreak resulted in the loss of an order for robot guides and translators from Tokyo Haneda Airport, and the company is unsure about future demand for these products. It took just a month for the firm to develop a prototype mask, and the design was created by Donut Robotics engineer Shunsuke Fujibayashi. The latter had developed the mask to help interpret speech by mapping facial muscles. The money to create the product, equivalent to $ 260,000, came from the sale of shares of Donut Robotics through the crowdfunding site Fundinno.
Taisuke Ono, CEO of Donut Robotics, said: “We have worked hard for years to develop a robot and have used that technology to create a product that responds to how the coronavirus has reshaped society.” The smart mask is priced at about $ 40 and since this is a new product targeting a new market, there are no rules that Ono and his company can follow. One possibility that the company is considering is the sale of subscriber services through an application that users must install on their phones.
Starting in September, the first 5,000 masks will be shipped to Japan. The company is looking to do business in the United States, Europe, and China and says there has been great interest in the product.
Now that a smart mask is added to the list of all “smart” things, which mundane product will get a tech change later?