Thought Leadership

Introducing the iBrush

By Colin Walls

Today, for a change, instead of discussing some embedded software technology, I would like to put forward a concept for a product. It is an embedded system, which 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 we have an understanding that you will use Mentor Graphics products in your design.

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. I do not time myself and I am not keen to get a toothbrush with a timer as I am very averse to nasty bleeping noises at sensitive times of day.

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 from a PC. 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 study to connect it to the PC 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.

What software would you need to design and implement the iBrush? You would need some embedded development tools, a real time kernel, WiFi or USB and an MP3 player, which is readily available.

I really think that the iBrush has potential. I will be in California later this week. Maybe I need to visit Cupertino.


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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at