Self monitoring of activity levels using accelerometer activated devices like Striiv and FitBit is all the rage these days, and now the field is expanding into dentistry thanks to the Beam Brush. The device transmits data about its use via Bluetooth to a matching smartphone app that keeps track of when and for how long the brush was used for. Beam Technologies, a year-old startup, is set to introduce a Bluetooth-enabled toothbrush and app that will launch next month. The toothbrush contains a sensor and Bluetooth radio that will send your brushing information to a smartphone app. Later versions will also track how long you spent in certain areas of the mouth and might add some kind of gamification layer to help encourage better brushing.
Alex X. Frommeyer, the CEO and founder of Beam, says the Beam Brush should hit shelves in early March and retail for about $50 for the base and $3 for a replaceable brush head. The Android app is ready, and the iOS app should be ready when the toothbrush launches or soon after. His startup, which is based in Louisville, Ky., is set to close on an initial round of funding in a few weeks. He didn’t disclose the amount but said it is less than $1 million.
The idea for creating a connected toothbrush came from a deeply personal and deeply practical place for Frommeyer. He had long been interested in the ways broadband and connectivity could upend the medical market, and had a personal connection to dentistry thanks to several family members working in the field. On a practical side, dentistry is an easier entry point into the medical field because the Food and Drug Administration has more lenient rules for approving toothbrushes. They are medical devices, but as long as someone submits the design to the FDA, he can sell it. That means Beam can sell its toothbrush without spending millions and waiting for FDA approval.
The first generation toothbrush may not appeal to those seeking the ultimate in data on their dental hygiene, as it will consist mostly of letting you track how long and when you brushed your teeth. To jazz up the experience, Frommeyer will let the app play songs and may incorporate a social element or game element into the process. At first this seems bizarre (although maybe not to those people who share their pictures of their dinners), but as a parent I would love one of these things so I can monitor how often my daughter brushes her teeth without standing right there in the bathroom.
Future iterations will also be able to show the user how long they spent in certain areas of the mouth. The sensor works via contact with the mouth, so it registers when the brush is scrubbing your teeth. I’d love for the app to become almost a reward system and prompt for good brushing, so when my daughter (or I) is brushing, the app could play a video or something fun, but if the brushing slacked off or spent too long in one place, the video stopped playing.