Dolami, a Japanese startup based both in the US and Japan, announced it raised 100 million yen (~$730,000) this week to help bring X Mask to market, a unique facemask capable of tracking a user’s facial movements in VR. While many of the specifics surrounding X Mask are still under wraps, the startup seems to have both consumer and enterprise users in mind.

According to a press statement (Japanese), the funding round was led by a fleet of Japan-based venture capital, including CyberAgentCapital, East Ventures, F Ventures, and NOW. Included in the round was former CEO of Anchor Japan Yoshitsune Ido, CEO of Mankind Games Yusuke Harima, Yuji Wakabayashi, and Executive Vice President of Photosynth Co. Hiroaki Watanabe.

Dolami, which partnered with Osaka University in 2021 to develop X Mask, says it will use the funds to strengthen the recruitment of core members and focus on product development.

Image courtesy Dolami

There’s still a lot to learn about X Mask, however the unique face-tracking mask is said to bring “over 95% accuracy” in replicating facial movements, with face-tracking latency speeds reaching 200 milliseconds. It’s also said to be fairly light, weighing in at 4.5oz (128g).

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Since its initial development in 2021, the company has since applied for an international patent which will allow Dolami to market the headset in the United States in addition to Japan. Dolami is aiming to reach a $90 price point when it’s released next year.

Image courtesy Dolami

Granted, face-tracking can also be done optically by way of either built-in sensors, such as the ones seen in Pico 4 Enterprise, or in add-on modules like with the Vive Facial Tracker, which can plug into HTC’s line of Vive Pro headsets. Dolami seems hardware agnostic in its approach thus far, so it could mean we’ll see multiple headsets supported, which would give the device a wider reach than current aftermarket modules.

While X Mask is a novel approach to facial tracking, and may confer some accuracy benefits over optical methods, one of the things we’re hoping to see is how the company deals with hygiene, as anyone with a non-wipeable VR headset facial interface can testify how gross the glorified face sponges can get. It also remains to be seen whether consumers even want to wear a facemask now that medical facemasks are falling out of use in the post-pandemic world.

We’re hoping to learn more soon, as the company says it’s aiming to launch X Mask sometime in 2023.

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Well before the first modern XR products hit the market, Scott recognized the potential of the technology and set out to understand and document its growth. He has been professionally reporting on the space for nearly a decade as Editor at Road to VR, authoring more than 3,500 articles on the topic. Scott brings that seasoned insight to his reporting from major industry events across the globe.
  • Looks cool, but when a camera can do it just fine there’s no way I’m going to put a whole face mask on and be super sweaty just to track my mouth. I’m a naturally warm person, that thing would be sopping wet after like 10 minutes of use

  • ViRGiN

    please leave the industry already

  • XRC

    Current headsets get warm during use from display panel and electronic emission as well as user body heat. If you’ve ever used a Vive Pro 2, you wouldn’t want a mask on your face.

    And there is that recent thing called COVID, cannot see many consumers willingly wearing a face mask again?

  • T0X1N

    As a person who has allergies, this is a no from me. Face tracking is already a solved problem with cameras, I do not see the point of this.

  • Hannibal Lecter approves