Your children will beg to brush their teeth.
Being a parent is difficult. Unfortunately, there is no included instruction manual. As a parent of three, seven and four-year-old boys and one-year-old girl, there are few activities that require a great deal of energy and attention. In my family, those times are sleep times, eating times and the need to brush teeth. Can you think of a more boring activity than brushing your teeth? We all know that we rush through teeth brushing, to get back to whatever activity we were enjoying prior to the dreaded nighttime ritual. What if there was a better option? What if there was a way to make teeth brushing fun?
This past January, I was able to attend CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas Nevada. I had the pleasure of meeting Paul Varga with Playbrush, a London, and Vienna-based startup. They set out to create a device that turns your toothbrush into a controller. Now, the phrases “Do I have to Daddy?” and “Can we skip it tonight?” have been exchanged for “Can we play the game?”
The product arrives in a blue box with a small clear plastic window in the bottom left. The box design is very well done, cartoony and child-friendly. To the right of the clear plastic, window is a picture of a knight and a phone with tooth decay monsters. The logo Playbrush is clearly marked in white along the top left and then “Your Toothbrush Game Controller” along the top right. Along the right side of the packaging are included accessories: Playbrush, manual, USB A to micro USB charger, Bedtime Story. This is detailed in four languages. There is also a QR code linking you to the app. Along the back of the packaging, you will see diagrams detailing the use of the product. The product manual is written in English, German, French, Spanish. The English is actually well written. The battery is internal, rechargeable and not changeable.
After removing the product from the packaging, go to the IOS App Store or to Google Play Store and download Utoothia app. Insert your toothbrush into the device, lining up the toothbrush bristles with the arrow on the bottom of the device. Shake the Playbrush back and forth and you will see the base flash yellow. Go to settings on your smart device and find Playbrush. Open the app on the device and follow the instructions. Your device needs to support Bluetooth 4.0 for this to pair successfully. Inside the app, select the orange circle with the + sign along the top right, select gender, enter name in the blank. When the Bluetooth is connected, the toothbrush in the middle of the screen will turn into a green triangle. Press the triangle and you will start the 2-minute game. If the bristles are facing upwards as you brush, you will attack the top lane. If the bristles are facing downwards and you brush the tops of your bottom teeth you will attack the bottom lane. If you brush the sides of your teeth you will attack the lanes respectively. If you brush with a good rhythm, your beam will turn red and you will gain multiplier. The goal is to get a high score. The game collects metadata on your brushing: overall performance, inner top, inner bottom, outer left and outer right, score and games played. The brush controls are similar to a D-pad on a controller. The unfortunate piece of information here is that this can be fooled. My children both figured this out and shook the controller to gain a better score. The manufacturer recommends using the device 2-3x daily.
The device would be useless to you if you had to charge it frequently. Luckily, this device will last you about 1-2 weeks before requiring another charge. They did include a USB A to USB micro charger in the packaging, however, any micro USB charger will work. To charge the device, remove the colored silicone topper from the white base and plug the microUSB cord into the slot on the white base. You will see a red LED flashing while charging and this will turn to a solid red light when fully charged. I found a single charge overnight will last just about 2-2.5 weeks. You will start to get a flashing yellow/red light when due for a recharge. It really is convenient to only have to charge this thing twice per month. My kids love it and love playing the game. I too have gotten into the game, trying to get a higher score. The downside that we found was that the game does get a little redundant. There are a few different backgrounds, but really no extra levels. There are prizes there are no unlocks. It does keep the metadata and high score, which is a fun challenge.
My children and I really have enjoyed this product. It is more sensitive than I expected. Again, it acts like a D-pad on a controller and targets a given lane with the direction you brush. Brush fast enough and your beam changes color. Kill the monsters, collect the multiplier and gain a high score. This product has turned a dull activity, a monotonous activity into a family fun moment. I still do not let my 4-year-old brush alone and I typically over brush his teeth for him, after he plays the game. Both children (4 and 7 yr old boys) now really look forward to brushing teeth 2x daily. The included story book is cute, detailing the one-eyed ogre “Plaksta” who is invading the kingdom with his evil goblins the Crobies. The tooth fairy is weak and she needs you to collect the Crown Teeth, the 12 hidden teeth in the counties of Utoothia. Brush teeth daily and explore the 12 counties of Utoothia: volcanic eruptions of Velcro, cloud formations of limbo, mountain snow of Olympus.
Just when you think that this is getting old and boring, the company has brought two new free games to the App Store: Utoothia Sky (4/11/16) and Utoothia Magic (5/7/16). Now you have three games to play. In Utoothia Sky, you need to help the tooth fairy regain her magical powers by flying through the land and collecting her lost teeth. This is a side-scrolling flight/distance game. This game allows more customization of your avatar, more styles to choose from, choose between 2 flying craft and 2 helmets. I really like this game, as it is different than the other two. In the third game, you get to play as the Tooth Fairy. You can only choose between 2 female avatars. This game is much like Utoothia in function. However, there is a lot more focus on the appearance and graphics. Use her powers to stop the evil Crobies. They come out in all 4 quadrants and you must kill them. Unlock the hidden rewards and save the land for the tooth fairy. Both of these games have achievements to work towards and really gives the children a goal to shoot for. The two newest games also tell you that you are brushing too fast and alert you to weaker areas of brushing. These games really do add to the features that make Utoothia amazing.
I highly encourage anyone with children over the age of 3 to get this product. I love that you can use any toothbrush with the base and with the game. I have used other toothbrush products that have proprietary heads that you must repurchase, often at about $20 per 3 heads. I do not mind paying for the health of my children, I am not saying that at all. However, if there is an option that allows me to pay once, I will choose that nearly every time. The game is fun, it keeps the attention of the children and it shows me the problem areas that I need to focus on for the children. This likely will not work with spinning head toothbrushes unless the base is narrow. I would still watch the children with the brushing as they can cheat the game by shaking the brush out of the mouth. With the 3 free games, I rate the device at 5/5 stars.
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DOWNLOAD – Utoothia – FREE iOS