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This Japanese ‘Smart Mask’ translates speech into eight different languages

Japanese startup company Donut Robotics created the C-Face Smart mask—a mask that you can use with an app to transcribe dictation, amplify the wearer’s voice, and translate speech into eight different languages. The high-tech mask was designed to make communication and social distancing easier.

Donut Robotics first developed a robot prototype called Cinnamon—designed to provide tourists with useful information and help them to navigate the airport. But the project was put on hold when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and that’s when the team’s engineers came up with the idea to use their software in a face mask.

The C-Face Smart mask is not necessarily an ‘upgrade’ in terms of coronavirus protection. It has cutouts on the front which are meant for “breathability”, but it is meant to be worn over a standard face mask.

It’s made of white plastic and silicone, and has an embedded microphone that connects to the wearer’s smartphone via Bluetooth. The system can be used to translate between Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Indonesian, English, Spanish and French.

The mask fixes the problem of how muffled our voices can get when we wear a face mask. Talking to your doctor, asking a question to an information counter, or being in a meeting can be considered difficult if our voices are softer than usual.

You can use the C-Face Smart mask to amplify your voice using your smartphone so that you won’t have to talk too loud. You can also use it to write ‘minutes’ on your phone without having to type anything.

Being able to translate your words into different languages would also be good for eventual international travels with a face mask. Something tells me we might still need to cover our faces by the time we get to go sightseeing in Japan.

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However, this lone mask costs a pretty penny—at about JPY3980 (RM158) excluding tax. Surprisingly, a monthly fee is also charged for the translation function and the minutes function.

Besides this fancy face mask, fashion designer Chelsea Klukas of Lumen Couture created an LED mask which you can use to write your own text and draw your own designs via an app. It costs a whopping USD95 (RM404).


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