Donut Robotics debuts connected face mask

Covid under a microscope

Japanese startup Donut Robotics developed a smart mask, or c-mask, that's able to transmit messages and translate Japanese into eight languages.

As oer Reuter’s, the idea for the tech-savvy masks came while Donut Robotics’ engineers hunting for a product that would ultimately help the company survive the coronavirus pandemic.

At the same time, the coronavirus had begun to spread, Donut Robotics secured a contract to supply robot guides and translators to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport. That project’s status is now unknown.

By adapting translation software developed for its airport guides, and a mask designed by one of the company’s engineers Shunsuke Fujibayashi, Donut Robotics built a prototype of the c-mask in a month. The plastic mask fits over standard face masks and uses Bluetooth to connect to an app that transcribes speech, makes calls and amplifies the mask 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,” said Taisuke Ono, the chief executive of Donut Robotics.

Selling for about $40 per mask, Donut Robotics is marketing the product to a demographic that didn’t exist until recently. The company’s first round of orders is expected to ship to buyers in Japan in September. Ono says the company hopes to sell the masks in China, the US and Europe in the near future.