Cambridge Design Partnership has developed the TruthBrush, a device that could help improve the design of oral care products.
TruthBrush is equipped with miniaturised sensors such as accelerometers and strain gauges to monitor how people brush their teeth.
Information from the sensors is analysed by algorithms to reveal information such as how long people spend brushing their teeth and at what times of day they brush.
It could also reveal the speed with which people brush their teeth, and how much force they apply, according to George Bostock, oral care leader at CDP.
“Although a toothbrush is a simple device, the physics of what is going on [inside your mouth] is extremely complicated,” said Bostock. “There is a lot of science yet to be learned about how plaque sticks to your teeth and how best to remove it, to help us understand the brush-teeth-plaque-gum interaction.”
Some expensive electric toothbrushes can already connect to smart apps that allow information on brush patterns to be recorded. However, the vast majority of people around the world still use a manual toothbrush, meaning the only way for developers to analyse how they brush is with lab-based monitoring, which is not a realistic setting.
“We are putting together a sensor system that is small, neat and light, and has enough battery power that it can go inside a manual toothbrush in an unobtrusive way, so that the user doesn’t know it’s there,” said Bostock.
The TruthBrush is aimed at developers of manual toothbrushes, and could help them to introduce design changes such as better handles for elderly people struggling with poor dexterity, for example.
“The data collected should lead to better designed toothbrushes,” said Bostock.