In the wake of the new normal brought in by the coronavirus pandemic, masks have become an essential part of our lifestyle. Looking for a way to survive the challenging times, the Tokyo based startup, Donut Robotics has developed an internet-connected “smart mask” that can transmit messages and translate from Japanese into eight other languages.
They have developed a mask made out of white plastic in a “c” shape, which fits over their standard face masks. These masks can connect via bluetooth to a smartphone and tablet application that can make calls, transcribe speech into text or text messages, or amplify the mask wearer’s voice.
Taisuke Ono, the Chief Executive Officer of Donut Robotics says, “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.”
The company is planning to sell its first 5,000 masks to Japanese buyers from September, and gradually expanding to China, Europe and the United States, where Ono has perceived a strong demand.
Valued at $40 each, these “C-masks” will reach a mass market that did not even exist in the beginning of this year. The company is planning to generate revenue from subscriber services offered via an app that the users will have to download, in order to use the mask.
By selling shares through the Japanese funding site Fundinno, Donut Robotics has raised 28 million yen ($260,000), for development. They claim to have raised their initial target of 7 million yen in the first 3 minutes, and a sum of 37 million yen after 37 minutes, post which they closed the subscriptions.