The COVID-19 crisis has brought a "new normal" upon us, a world where people prefer to remain socially distant and protected with masks and face shields.
But, as masks come with their own set of problems, a Japanese start-up called Donut Robotics is creating a whole new way of protection with its novel internet-connected "smart mask."
Here's more about it.
As many may have experienced, masks result in a muffled voice, which people standing/sitting 6 feet away - the minimum requirement for social distancing - find it very difficult to hear.
This eventually ends up with the speaker removing their mask and speaking again or the listener coming closer than 6 feet to understand what they're saying, thereby increasing the risk of virus transmission.
To tackle these challenges and bridge the communication gaps, Donut Robotics, the company that built the famous Cinnamon robot, is offering the new c-mask.
It is a smart mask that sits on top of the regular fabric-based face mask and connects with a phone via Bluetooth to enable various smart functions, including making remote calls without speaking directly into the phone.
Along with calling, c-mask uses its speech recognition capabilities to let the user dictate a message or something they want to say on their phone.
Then, they could show it to an individual standing nearby or send it via supported instant messaging services like LINE. The device also enables translation from Japanese speech into eight different languages, but that requires a subscription.
The automated device also offers a way to amplify your voice so that everyone around, including those who are 6 feet away and farther, can hear what you are saying.
This is also done with the help of the connected phone, which works as a digital loudspeaker, increasing the pitch of the sound; the feature could come particularly handy in classrooms or during meetings.
The novel c-mask has been priced at around $40, which is about Rs. 3,000, and will start shipping in Japan by the end of the year.
Donut Robotics expects to deliver at least 5,000 units of the mask in Japan before expanding to other nations, including the US, China, and Europe.
The availability of the device in India is not yet confirmed.
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