When the inventors of Bluetooth revealed their new wireless communication method in the late 1990s, few people could have envisaged it being used to monitor toothbrushes. However, at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, French firm Kolibree unveiled a connected toothbrush that uses Bluetooth to provide users with unparalleled levels of feedback about their brushing habits and oral hygiene levels.
Kolibree claim that their smart toothbrush turns teeth-cleaning into “a fun experience”, although it’s more likely to appeal in terms of preventing poor brushing techniques and obeying the diktats of the dentist. The brush’s bristles are filled with sensors including an accelerometer, gyroscope and magnetometer. These generate a detailed summary about whether any crevices have been missed, how much pressure has been applied at each point, and specific brushing directions.
Information from a family of brushes can be fed to an app-equipped Android or iOS smartphone, and daily dental routines can be shared through social media (or sent directly to your dentist), with each brushing session awarded a five-star rating.
Check out video interview with one of the Kolibree team:
Turning teeth-cleaning into a Guitar Hero-style dexterity test may seem unlikely, but children love a challenge, and Kolibree will release brushing data via an API to third-party game designers, who can then create new apps for it. In the meantime, as the Independent pointed out, the Kolibree “collects sufficient data to enable you to have dental hygiene competitions with other members of your household, a possible incentive to children.” The Independent also declared it to be “perhaps the most quirky of all the intelligent household devices on show” at CES.
Kolibree’s Amy Forrester summed up the brush’s more prosaic merits when she described it as “like having a dentist inside your phone”. The popular press agreed, and CNN revealed how the Kolibree toothbrush “was invented by Thomas Serval, a French engineer and a leader in that country’s tech industry. He was inspired to design it after suspecting that his children were lying to him about whether they had brushed their teeth.” Mashable predicted the Kolibree “will be invaluable for improving your overall dental health”, adding “You’ll have no excuse [not to] be gingivitis free at your next dentist appointment.”
Wired described the Kolibree as “an interesting concept”, although it pointed out that “companies such as Oral B have been developing electric brushes that connect to dedicated monitoring devices for a few years.” They acknowledged that the brush taps into a burgeoning trend for real-time health updates: “By using a strong visual app, this is an implementation of the idea that could well gel with health-conscious users, particularly those now familiar with devices like the Nike Fuelband or Fitbit for exercise tracking.”
Further information about the Kolibree is due to be revealed in the next few months, with a Kickstarter funding announcement expected soon. The price is going to be in the region of £60. On sale later this year.