Popular trending words in the internet hinterlands are “Crowd-Funding” and the “Internet of Things”. I bring this up because scrolling across my twitter feed the other day was an announcement from Kolibree (http://www.kolibree.com/) about a new Kickstarter campaign to help with funding for their app-driven ‘Internet of Things’ toothbrush for the 21st Century.
Introduced to the World in January, 2014 during the Las Vegas Consumer Electronic Show (a show for tech groupies who have a hankering for the latest in technology), the Kolibree touts itself as the worlds first connected electric toothbrush. One could argue that this in itself is not entirely accurate as we reported back in March of 2013 about the Beambrush which is also a ‘smart’ toothbrush with an app which keeps track of how long one brushes (you can check it out here: (http://tiny.cc/2rodex)
However, the Kolibree seems to have tapped that sweet spot in publicity with lots of play in old and social media. As can be seen on their website, their toothbrush has been seen on CNN, the Today Show, the Wall Street Journal, Gizmodo, Fox News, Yahoo, CNet, The Telegraph amongst others. Critical to this early success is their management team which brings together all of the requisite young millennials, software engineers and social media influencers. The only group which seems to be missing is a dental professional (if anybody from Kolibree is reading this, I could be convinced to join the team for a few preferred shares).
The Kolibree itself is quite elegant in design and is loaded with the latest in technology including lightweight sensors and wireless bluetooth connectivity. Besides brushing your teeth, it keeps track of where you brush and for how long you are brushing. A great tool that allows one to ensure that all tooth surfaces are being brushed. There is real time monitoring which can be followed on an app downloaded to your iphone, android phone or tablet device. Furthermore, one can keep track of multiple users, thereby allowing the NSA to hack into your phone and steal your toothbrushing data. More important, all data can be exported to your dentist who can follow along from the comfort of their own mobile device.
Obviously, none of this technology comes cheap, with the cost of the toothbrush ranging from $99 to $199 depending on the model. Mass production of the toothbrush is planned for sometime in August, with the first units ready to be sold in October. Obviously, this is a young company attempting to carve out a niche in what is already a mature and highly competitive market (think Colgate spinbrushes, Sonicare), and so there are questions as to it’s long term viability.
Currently, the only way you can get one of these toothbrushes is through Kickstarter (http://tiny.cc/z3ndex) . Kolibree needs to raise $70,000 in order to start production on the fist set of brushes (as of 4/15/2014 they have raised $57,000). Getting in on the ground level will give you the distinction of being one of the early adopters on what is sure to be just the start of new devices designed to enhance our everyday lives.
A fascinating guest post from Carlo Rotella who is a columnist with the Boston Globe. Carlo is a fellow runner (though much faster), near neighbor and father to one of my daughter’s besties. I’ve always found his columns insightful, humorous, slightly edgy and on point. So imagine my pleasant surprise when I fired up my iPad and saw a somewhat dental related article entitled “Up to our teeth in Litter”. It describes Carlo’s latest obsession with the litter we find haphazardly strewn on our streets. Disposable floss threaders star in his piece.
I must admit, it brought a smile to my face. That being said, we do give all of our patients reusable, environmentally friendly floss threaders so hopefully we are not contributing to the litter.
Without much further adieu, here is the article in it’s entirety. Enjoy!
Up to our teeth in litter
AS YOU make your way around the city, look down. What do you see? These days, probably floss picks. These f-shaped plastic thingies, each housing a short length of dental floss, are everywhere. They’re meant to be disposable, floss-and-toss, and that’s exactly what people do with them. You see them scattered singly on sidewalks and in gutters, nestled in the grass at the park, dumped in ashtray-like batches of two or three dozen in parking lots. Each time I see one, which is often, some part of me pauses to appreciate the advance they represent in the art of doing one small thing to make the world just a little bit worse for everyone.
It’s a minor but meaningful achievement. Consider the philosophically rigorous accretion of selfishness in every discarded floss pick. First there’s the company that made it, which chose profit and landfills full of unnecessary plastic over the public good. Then there’s the person who dropped it, who did the math and decided that interdental stimulation and the convenience of letting an item drop from one’s nerveless fingers the second one is done with it clearly justify the incremental degradation of everyone else’s day. Not only do the rest of us have to kick our way through plastic crap on the ground, but we also get an unwanted reminder of other people prying gross stuff from between their teeth.
The long-reigning champion, the Joe Louis of everyday public ugliness, is, of course, the cigarette butt. Let’s set aside for a moment the question of smoking itself and focus on how smokers have managed to ram through the court of public opinion the seemingly indefensible notion that throwing a cigarette butt on the ground doesn’t really count as dumping your garbage in public. If you chew up a wad of tobacco and then drool it into a paper napkin and throw that soggy napkin on the ground, you’ll be regarded as a pig, but if you do pretty much the same thing with a cigarette, it’s somehow supposed to be not as bad — a gray area, even a kind of rakishly self-expressive flourish, if you flick it just so. Along with the sheer number of cigarette butts out there, the bald presumption they stand for helps keep them in first place.
Close behind them come plenty of worthy challengers. Take, for instance, the plastic bag with dog feces in it, especially when it’s placed next to a garbage can. The perp who left it is saying, in effect, “Picture me tenderly palming a steaming loaf fresh from my beloved pet’s backside, snugging it in this bag, and tying off the bag in an artful bow, then carrying it almost all the way to a proper receptacle and placing it with great care in close proximity to said receptacle. For the love of God, what more can you ask of me?”
Another strong entry is the car alarm, especially those that make a medley of intensely annoying noises or use a Robocop voice to warn away an interloper. The classic of this type, made by Viper, employed the voice of Darrell Issa, now a congressman from California. He got rich on it, a textbook case of one guy making his own life better by making measurably worse the lives of everyone anywhere near one of those alarms when it goes off.
The field may be crowded with intimidating competitors, but the floss pick is a rising star. As little mint-green harbingers of its coming dominion show up across the landscape, people have begun to notice. There’s even a blog devoted to photographs of floss picks in the wild, like so many f-shaped starlets posing for publicity shots. The cigarette butt has had a long run at the top, but its negatives are high. A lot of people disapprove of smoking, after all, while floss picks are not only brightly colored and indestructible but also associated with virtue. You’re supposed to floss your teeth.
So be afraid, cigarette butts. The Floss Pick Age is dawning.
Carlo Rotella is director of American studies at Boston College. His latest book is “Playing in Time: Essays, Profiles, and Other True Stories.’’