Brush Monster was the first to create an AR toothbrushing experience. However, do kids want AR or do they simply want games?
As a father of three young children, nine and six-year-old sons and a three-year-old daughter, getting anything done takes plenty of effort. Simply getting out of the house to go to work/school or to go to an outing is exhausting. Now imagine that it is an activity that few children like to do such as bathing and brushing one’s teeth. According to the CDC, tooth decay is one of the most common chronic conditions in children in the USA, affecting twenty percent of children ages five to eleven and thirteen percent of those aged twelve to nineteen. Furthermore, the CDC relays the good news that this is a preventable problem with the routine home use of brushing with fluoride toothpaste and to follow up regularly with your dentist (starting at age 1). Now as parents, we know that our children need to brush twice daily and see their dentist twice annually. As anyone with dental pain can attest, we know what happens when we do not care for our teeth adequately. Luckily, there is an App-enhanced AR toothbrush experience from Monster Brush that caters to our modern children. Let the iPad Zombies enjoy a fun, apped-up AR toothbrushing experience.
The Brush Monster kit arrived in a Despicable Me, Minion-esque, yellow/orange color, 7 1/8 inches tall by 3 3/8 inches wide by 2 inches thick retail package. I applaud the use of brand recognition, as the image on the cover resembles the Minion Bob from Despicable Me. The title “Brush Monster” was cute and the bold black coloration attractively contrasted the packaging color. The open mouth, brushing image provided a direct signal as to the nature of the product. Rotating the packaging ninety degrees counterclockwise, Monster Brush intelligently used three cartoon images to detail the Bluetooth Connectivity, Augmented Reality App-enhanced experience and a dental report. The opposite face was mostly bare, as were the top and bottom panels. The back of the packaging showed off the features of the toothbrush: anti-bacterial soft brush, 4 step sonic vibration, simple use, brushing motion sensor and a long-lasting battery. To learn more about the specifications, you will need to look at the small print along the bottom, beneath the Korean Text. The white model BMT100 brush measures 177mm tall by 24 mm wide by 21 mm thick and weighs 32 grams. The sonic vibration was listed at 16,000 times per minute and the device uses a single AAA battery. It promises IPX7 waterproof protection and uses Bluetooth 4.2 communication. For children ages three and over, the Monster Brush experience promised to be quite enjoyable.
To remove the inner box from the outer slipcover, press upwards along the bottom panel. Inside of the box, you will find a six panel, 7 3/8 inches tall by 3 1/8 inches wide, instruction manual and the 6 15/16 inches tall by 15/16 inches wide by 3/4 inches thick white toothbrush. Other than the grey on/off button and a grey icon along the bottom that resembles a cat on a snowboard (Kitten Planet), the only other color is the small ring that separates the brush body from the brush head. If you purchase a Brush Monster Replacement Refill Head pack of three brush heads, you will notice that there are three pastel colored identification rings (blue, pink, yellow). If you lift the toothbrush out of the box, you will find a hidden AAA battery. To install the battery, grip the bottom of the toothbrush and the middle of the toothbrush and twist the bottom counterclockwise. Once unlocked, you can remove the base of the toothbrush and then install the battery “-” terminal first. Reinstall the base by following the inverse of the above steps. With the toothbrush installed, I navigated to the iOS store on my iPad Air 2 and typed “Brush Monster – ar toothbrush” and found “No Results.” Since this was listed as available on iOS, I tried to find it on my iPhone X and saw it within the App store. I figured it must be an iPhone only app. If you touch the filters button along the top left and then select “iPhone only,” you will be able to see and download the app to your iPad.
When you download the app, you can choose to allow notifications or not. I personally choose not to allow notifications for most apps, but this is a personal preference. The opening sequences had a prominent classic 80’s-90’s retro video game feeling and were very cartoony. Before getting started, you will have to navigate through a series of five informational panels Once completed, select “sign up” along the lower right you will need to complete a login by adding an email and password. The following screen will ask for information about child date of birth, name, predominant hand of use and to select a character. The main Brush Mon App shows the three brush creatures along the middle, a play triangle and an astronaut along the bottom. Along the top of the app, you will find three icons, three horizontal lines, a rocket ship and a lifesaver ring. If you select the first icon, you can change profile, activate settings and replay the intro video. I was able to add profiles for each of my children (Princess Poppy, Captain Danielpants, and Slayer SamSam). If you press the rocketship, it will take you to cheese family icons and the lifesaver ring will present data. Early in the app experience, this section will state “There are no results. Start brushing your teeth!.” To play, simply press the circle with triangle option. “Let’s squeeze the toothpaste, squeeze, squeeze.” You will then be told to turn on the toothbrush. Press the grey button once and then the camera will start to vibrate. Over time the app will march you through the sections of the teeth. Unfortunately, this continued through the different zones regardless of what I did. To test this, I turned the toothbrush on and placed it onto the sink. Near the end, the app will tell you to brush tongue, rinse with water and then to gargle, gargle, spit, clean the cup and then put everything away.
Once complete, the app will go through a sequence of congratulatory screens and then announce “Yahoo, we have escaped, see you again tomorrow.” An icon then appeared in Cheese Family, which would allow me to select selfies. Returning home, when I selected the lifesaver ring, the app provided graded brushing information. Those areas that were brushed well were shown in white and those that were brushed poorly were displayed in yellow. The first test showed everything yellow but then I brushed again and made sure to hit all of the parts and numerous areas turned white, but not all of them. While brushing, you can see an intelligent window/mirror picture of yourself with an AR Minion cap. As you brush better, the app jingles and stars appear on the screen. Overall, the game was an enjoyable/fun experience for my three-year-old and for a few brushing experiences for my six and nine-year-olds. My older children became bored quickly with this game and preferred the games on Playbrush to the Brush Monster. For younger children this app/brush is perfect. You can exchange heads regularly, and you can change AAA batteries as often as needed, without requiring you to charge an internal battery when you needed your kids to brush. Having played the AR game for a few days, the kids wanted more. They like to watch each other, challenge each other and play an actual game. The AR app was fun for my 3-year-old, however, as she liked the glitter, the sparkle, the easy instruction and she liked the “kill the cavity bugs idea.” I think the App has a lot of promise and the toothbrush seems to clean well. It needs more games, more styles, more opportunities to compete in the toothbrush game market (Playbrush, Kolibre, Crush). Additionally, a phone stand and or a toothbrush stand would have been a very neat accessory. This is a great start and we look forward to additional phone enhanced apps.