The gaming industry is known for taking its players deep into alternative realities, like Minecraft’s 3-D landscapes or the mystical planets in World of Warcraft. But the latest development in gaming isn’t playing out in some imaginary hellscape. It’s happening in your kid’s mouth.
Grush, a new device developed by Anubha Sacheti, a Harvard-trained pediatric dentist, introduces motion-sensing gaming technology to the bathroom sink. Sacheti teamed with game developer Ethan Schur and Yong-Jing Wang, an inventor with a PhD in physics, to design a Bluetooth-enabled electric toothbrush for children that tracks how well and how long they brush their teeth.
As kids clean their bicuspids, the toothbrush becomes the gaming console, allowing them to chase monsters “hiding” in their teeth or to conduct an orchestra on a connected smartphone or tablet. Each game lasts two minutes, focusing on each quadrant of the mouth for 30 seconds; the child is then given a score on brushing quality. Sacheti’s team perfected the technology on America’s Greatest Makers, a contest series on TBS. In May, they beat 23 other teams to win the show’s $1 million grand prize.
Tooth decay is among the most common chronic disorders of American children, and Sacheti says the idea for Grush came in part from her own struggles getting her children to not only brush their teeth but do so effectively. That concern extends to the patients in her Fitchburg practice. “I’m a dentist, but I’m only guessing what happens to a child once they leave the office,” she says.
With Grush, kids’ brushing habits are recorded in the cloud, where both parents and dentists can track them. Grush is taking pre-orders for the brush, which will cost $59 and come with three replaceable heads (new heads will be offered with additional games). Sacheti says the aim in pricing was to make Grush affordable for most families.
The device supplies “graphical data that can be captured over time, providing us with an immediate understanding of a child’s brushing and what they’re missing,” Sacheti says. And she doesn’t plan to stop with brushing. She and the team have developed a floss attachment and have plans to expand their market — to adults.
> The electric toothbrush is a child-size 7 inches long.
> An Intel Curie chip, designed for wearable devices, powers the connectivity.
> The brush and three replaceable heads will retail for $59.