The high-tech face mask that can translate your speech

Morgan Meaker
·2-min read
Donut Robotics chief executive Taisuke Ono poses for a photo wearing the company's smart face mask - Philip Fong/AFP
Donut Robotics chief executive Taisuke Ono poses for a photo wearing the company's smart face mask - Philip Fong/AFP

A Japanese start up has developed a 'smart' face mask that can translate speech in eight different languages and allow people to talk up to 10 metres away.

The “C-Face” covering, developed by Donut Robotics, amplifies a person's voice by recording it through an embedded microphone and playing it back on an app via Bluetooth.

As well as increasing the volume of speech, it is able to translate Japanese into several languages including English, Chinese, Spanish and French. It also offers a transcription service so that users can read back their conversations. 

The device, which does not offer coronavirus protection and is designed to be worn over another mask, will go on sale in February 2021 for 4,000 Japanese Yen (£29). 

Donut Robotics is just one of several startups trying to wean the world off the ubiquitous surgical face-mask, instead making the case that face-coverings could be more in-keeping with the digital age.    

South Korea’s LG Electronics, for instance, has equipped its futuristic "personal air solution" mask with gadgets that the company says can filter out pollution particles as well as the virus.

Chinese tech company Huami has created a mask, known as Aeri, designed to disinfect itself using built-in ultraviolet lights. 

Meanwhile, researchers at the School of Materials Science and Engineering at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University have created a mask design for Covid-19 patients and frontline workers that is capable of monitoring vital signs, such as blood oxygen levels and temperature. 

A woman wears VYZR technologies' "BioVYZ" coronavirus protection - VYZR Technologies
A woman wears VYZR technologies' "BioVYZ" coronavirus protection - VYZR Technologies

In North America, astronaut-style face shields are finding surprising success. 

A company called Microclimate, has experienced such high demand for its virus-protective head-bubble, called Air, that its website is warning of shipping delays. 

Toronto-based VYZR Technologies is also selling a space-age suit that looks more suited to life on the moon than living through a pandemic. The model covers the top half a person's body and includes built in anti-fogging windows and a hospital-grade air purifying device. 

When the company first launched via crowd-funding site Indiegogo, it raised nearly $600,000 in four months.