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by Ekeler

Published on June 1, 2015

Video link:

According to the American Dental Association, national dental care expenditure reached $111 billion in 2012. (1)

That's a lot of money that we all spend every year on keeping our teeth healthy and clean. Wouldn't it be great if we could save some of that money to spend on things much nicer than sitting in a dentist's chair?

According to a recent survey, 30 percent of Americans aren’t brushing enough, meaning less than twice a day on average. People who brush at least twice a day are 22 percent more likely to describe their oral health as good or better compared with those who brush less frequently. (2)

We all know that we should brush more. Yet apparently, we don't. The short term worries of rushing to get to work in the morning and watching a little more Netflix at night are overruling long term concerns of oral health and hygiene.

In order to create an incentive for people to take better care of themselves, we propose a LittleBits powered device that employs the theory of "temptation bundling" (3). By linking an activity you should do but may avoid; and one you love to do but isn’t necessarily productive, we aim to strengthen the user's ability for self-control.

This project was conceived in a workshop organized by LittleBits and Shapeways. The goal of the day was to use LittleBits technology to find a use for connecting everyday object to the Internet of Things using the CloudBit. Our everyday things were:

● a toothbrush
● a tube of toothpaste
● a music box

Our device:
The BrushR has two main functionalities:

● play a tune on the music box for 2 minutes, the recommended duration of a tooth brushing session
● log tooth brushing sessions into a spreadsheet and calculate the user's progress towards a savings goal
The LittleBits circuit inside the BrushR is triggered works as follows:

● a push button triggers a "timeout" bit.
● the timer starts a DC motor that drives the music box
● once the timer runs out, an "inverter" bit triggers a signal to the CloudBit
● the cloud bit connects to a IFTTT recipe which logs the event in a google spreadsheet.

A custom DC motor driver LittleBit module was created based on a "perf" bit to drive the more powerful gear motor neede to run the music box. This custom bit is based around the L293D H-bridge chipset which provides up to 0.6 Amps to the motor. The motor is powered by an external 12V power supply.

A 3D printed structure holds together the different elements of the device. This "skeleton" was printed by Shapeways using their "strong and flexible" nylon material (4). A custom gear for the DC motor was 3D printed in order to interface with the music box. It was printed using Shapeways' "frosted detail" resin (5).

The "skeleton", electronics, music box and motor are enclosed in a 3D printed shell made out of porcelain and gold plated steel. For this prototype, the enclosure was not printed due to considerations of cost and time. The toothbrush holder was incorporated in the nylon skeleton for testing purposes.

The user can set their savings goal on sheet 2 of the Google spreadsheet at:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1AvowopIvHYyAGBAjqm7lbedOEGMeOp8dXOMJ-gBqS3Y/edit?usp=sharing. They can also set the amount of money they would like to save with every brushing session.

Every times they use their BrushR, the system automatically records the brushing session and logs it on sheet 1 of the spreadsheet. When the savings goal has been achieved, the user can, with a both clean conscience and clean teeth, treat themselves to buy that shiny thing they had been lusting over all this time.


(1) https://www.deltadental.com/Public/NewsMedia/NewsReleaseDentalSurveyFindsShortcomings_201409.jsp
(2) http://www.ada.org/~/media/ADA/Science%20and%20Research/HPI/Files/HPIBrief_0114_1.ashx
(3) http://pubsonline.informs.org/doi/abs/10.1287/mnsc.2013.1784
(4) http://www.shapeways.com/product/NPK55J8JT/brushr-v3
(5) https://www.shapeways.com/product/F95ZGH5W6/gears

Credits: Bastiaan Ekeler Maren Fiorelli Mason Umholtz


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