Chicken ribs or translation artifacts? Smart mask invented in Japan can “talk”

The mask is coming to rob the translator. Recently, a Japanese start-up invented a smart mask to try to solve the problem of wearing a mask that doesn’t communicate smoothly. A Japanese company called Donut Labs has developed a smart mask that translates eight different languages to help the wearer communicate, Fast Company reported.


Working as a way, the mask connects to a smartphone app via Bluetooth, converting speech into text messages, as well as speech dictation and phone calls.

In fact, the C-Face is a plastic box mounted on a soft air filter mask, and the main role is to help people better understand conversations that are not so audible or understandable. As long as the phone is connected to Bluetooth, it can sense facial muscles in some way, decrypting the wearer’s voice (if there is a microphone inside the mask) and reaching as far as 10 meters, Reuters reported.

Photo credit: Donut Labs.

At the same time, a companion app converts voice into text on a phone screen for reading, or uses a smartphone’s speakers to amplify a person’s voice. The app promises to translate the communication at the meeting into one of the eight languages in just a few minutes.

Donut Labs’ chief executive, Yoshihiko Ono, said the product had been developed after years of effort and they hoped to use the technology to invent a product that could respond to post-epidemic social situations. During the outbreak, the company had reached a partnership with Tokyo Haneda Airport to provide robotic guides and translations for the airport, but it has not yet been implemented.

After the outbreak, the company developed C-Face and launched a crowdfunding campaign on Fundinno, a Japanese crowdfunding site. Of course, the price of this mask is also relatively high, the unit price is expected to be 40 Dollars (about 280 yuan). In the end, the company raised about $260,000.

Since it was reported by Reuters in July, Donut Labs says it has received hundreds of emails asking them to provide support in 30 countries and territories.

Although Donut Labs says the mask can be used in a number of scenarios, such as a glass-enclosed bank counter, company meeting scene, and so on, many people still think the mask is more chicken rib – after all, holding a mobile phone next to the mask with software for speech recognition seems no different.

But Donut Labs says it plans to add more features to smart masks soon. In the future, C-Face will be extended to image systems (AR, VR) and more. The first 5,000 masks will be available in Japan in September and will be expanded to China, the US and Europe.