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October 25, 2011 AT 7:16 am

The Brushduino – Helps kids brush their teeth better…

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Camelpunch: The Brushduino. Steve writes…

Ever have an idea that people tell you “you should TOTALLY patent that!” Well, I did, and they did, and I thought about it… but instead I decided to open source the whole thing. It seemed like kind of an obvious idea to me and going after a patent made me feel kind of greedy. Besides, all of my prototyping was done with open source tools!

Anyways, I hope someone can improve upon this. I think it’s a useful thing.

The Story
My daughters don’t brush their teeth long enough, if left to their own devices. When my wife or I brush their teeth, we do a nice thorough job that takes a little while but when the girls do it themselves, they tend to cut it short. Timing them doesn’t help, as they just stand there and chit-chat until the timer goes off. It’s not that they don’t brush their teeth LONG enough, it’s that they don’t brush their teeth WELL enough.

It occurred to me that if could make something that monitored how WELL they brush their teeth—and maybe even guided them through the process a little—then they’d eventually establish better habits for the future. I started thinking about what I could build that would help them and settled on the notion that an accelerometer was the perfect sort of thing to keep tabs on what constitutes a brush “stroke” while they’re in there brushing their teeth. All I’d need to do is come up with a little hardware and software to make it happen.

About the Hardware
For my birthday last year, I got myself an Arduino starter kit from www.adafruit.com and hadn’t used it for anything yet. I was curious about the Arduino platform and have read a lot about it. I figured it was time to build something on it and this toothbrush thing seemed like the perfect fit.


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