Oral B's next toothbrushing system will have accelerometers, gyroscopes, a Bluetooth link to a smartphone app, and cloud storage. Have they left anything out?
When the Oral-B Genius goes on sale in July, it will cost around $250. It brushes your teeth in much the same way as a $30 toothbrush from the same manufacturer - though it tries to make sure you haven’t missed a spot.
It's a smart toothbrush — so smart, in fact, that with the help of a smartphone app it watches while you brush and tells you which bits could use a little more work. The brush handle contains gyroscopes, accelerometers and a Bluetooth connection to report its movement and orientation to the phone, which uses its camera to figure out where the brush head is in relation to your head.
At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the company invited visitors to try the brush out at its booth, under the watchful eye of dental professionals.
It was a slick operation, with four bathroom sinks each equipped with a smartphone and, when I visited shortly after lunch on Wednesday, a queue of people eager to clean their teeth.
A brush designed to provide around two weeks of normal use between charges (about 30 two-minute brushings) wouldn't last long at a busy trade show, so the company had dozens of brushes on hand, sliding one into a fresh disposable plastic sleeve for each visitor and popping a new brush head on top.
With the Oral-B App in "Challenge" mode, I was invited to brush my teeth as I normally would, while the brush and app monitored where I was brushing.
I'm a somewhat slow and methodical brusher in adulthood (sadly, it wasn't always this way), always following the same route and regularly finishing long after my $30 electric toothbrush, also an Oral-B, has buzzed to tell me my two minutes are up. It was no surprise, therefore, that before I had finished I was invited to stop brushing my teeth and see how I had scored.
The app then displayed a stylized picture of a mouth, highlighting how well it calculated different areas that had been cleaned.
It gave me an overall score of 54, which was fair, as I had only cleaned the teeth of my lower jaw and the backs of my upper incisors.
However, it was a little confused as to which teeth I had actually brushed: On the advice of my dentist, I start behind the lower incisors. I then work my way all around the lower jaw till I'm back where I started, but for the Genius app, I hadn't cleaned my lower incisors at all. As far as it was concerned, though, my upper incisors were sparkling clean, front and back.
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