Some early considerations
The main aim with this musical toothbrush project is to combine the action
of brushing one's teeth and playing music such that the user gets the
impression of being able to control/interact with the music depending
on how he/she brushes his/her teeth. Thus it seemed important to us to
start very early with a rather simple prototype in order to have the time
to develop a fitting mapping from the tooth brushing movements to the
This early prototype was a simple toothbrush, augmented with an accelerometer
and connected to a computer with a serial cable. The accelerometer is
the sensor that we use to trace the movements of the toothbrush. More
precisely, it is a 2-axis-accelerometer that permits us to sense how fast
one moves (“accelerates”) the toothbrush. This prototype was
our main development prototype throughout the whole Software Design Phase,
and it looks as follows:
Our first prototype
Besides the accelerometer, we considered a lot of different sensors such
as a pressure sensor, a microphone, a tilt switch, or a light sensor.
But after different tests and discussions we decided to go for the accelerometer
and to put the other sensors to “future work”.
between the tooth brushing movements and the music
We finally came up with having two different ways of influencing the music
being playing while one is brushing his/her teeth. First the music adjusts
itself to the tempo of the tooth brushing movements, i.e. if one brushes
faster, the music also speeds up, and if one brushes slower, the music
also slows down. The second way of influencing the music is the orientation
in which one holds his/her toothbrush; compared to if one is brushing
the front of his/her teeth, thus holding the toothbrush horizontally,
one will get higher pitch value if brushing the upper teeth (i.e. holding
the brush upwards), and lowered pitch if brushing the lower teeth (i.e.
holding the brush downwards).
the desired music
After having analyzed the conventional process of brushing one's teeth,
we found that the most implicit way of choosing the music is if it each
toothpaste tube is associated with a different kind of music. To illustrate
this concept, we designed 8 different toothpaste tubes, each of them representing
a different genre of music. Thus when shopping in a supermarket, you would
be presented a range of toothpastes as follows:
Eight toothpastes that we have created.
Associating one music genre to one toothpaste did we achieve by augmenting
each of the above toothpastes with an RFID tag that will be detected by
the toothbrush whenever the toothpaste comes close to the toothbrush head.
Once toothpaste has been applied (i.e. brought close to the toothpaste's
head), the system starts playing back the corresponding music: Christmas,
Animal, Pop, or Disney songs are examples of categories that we could
very well imagine to offer.
the time tooth brushing duration or not?
A question that arose when developing the prototype was what should happen
when one song has finished. Should we fix the duration of time during
which music is played, in order to force the users to brush their teeth
a certain duration, or should we leave it up to the user how long/short
he/she likes to brush his/her teeth? Our current implementation plays
all available melodies of the chosen category in a queue, one after the
other, until the reset button is pressed. The reset button is located
on the toothbrush and is used to stop the playback of the currently played
music. After the actuation of this button, the user can apply another
toothpaste to obtain a new category of melodies.