Keep smiling with the iBrush

By Colin Walls

Embedded Software Technologist

November 15, 2017

Keep smiling with the iBrush

Today, for a change, instead of discussing some embedded software technology, I would like to put forward a concept for a new product.

Today, for a change, instead of discussing some embedded software technology, I would like to put forward a concept for a new product. It is an embedded system that I believe could sell in high volumes. Maybe someone reading this blog would like to develop it. I am happy to waive any rights to royalties on the idea so long as you mention my name.

This product is the iBrush.

I normally brush my teeth twice a day – after breakfast and before going to bed. My hygienist tells me that this is sufficient, so long as I use a good electric toothbrush and keep it up for two minutes on each occasion. My toothbrush has a built-in timer, which causes a slight interruption to the motor after 30, 60 and 90 seconds and a longer pause after 2 minutes. I think that this is an ingenious use of an available “user interface”, but I felt that we could do better. Maybe introduce some fun.

I had an idea: why not have a brush that played music for exactly two minutes? That would be much nicer. It could even be set up to play a different tune at either end of the day. Better still, a USB connection could enable it to download MP3s. Maybe it could make use of an iTunes playlist and shuffle the songs. The music could be delivered through the head of the toothbrush directly into the jaw of the user so only they would hear it.

I was excited by this idea, but realized there was much more potential. I would not want to carry my toothbrush into my office to connect it to the computer, and laptops and bathrooms are really not compatible. A wireless connection would be ideal. Initially, I thought of Bluetooth (Get it? Bluetooth for a toothbrush. Never mind.), but Wi-Fi would be much more flexible.

Once the Wi-Fi interface is included, Internet connectivity is an option and more possibilities come to mind. The brush could send periodic emails to your dentist to show the pattern of your dental hygiene, enabling them to advise you as necessary. Perhaps a tiny camera could be fitted into the head of the brush. This could send occasional pictures to your dentist, which they would review from time to time and call you if they spot a problem. This could even reduce the number of check-up appointments and cut your healthcare costs.

I really think that the iBrush has potential. I will be in California again in due course. Maybe I need to visit Cupertino.

Colin Walls is an Embedded Software Technologist at Mentor Graphics’ Embedded Software Division.

My work in the electronics industry spans nearly 40 years, almost exclusively with embedded software. I began developing software and managing teams of developers.Then, I moved to customer roles, including pre-and-post sales technical support, sales management and marketing. I have presented at numerous conferences, including Design West, Design East, Embedded World, ARM TechCon, and my work frequently appears on

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