This Toothbrushing App Was Reprogrammed to Be Less Addictive
Getting kids to brush their teeth can be challenging. Philips Sonicare recently released an app-enabled toothbrush that not only does this, but also encourages them to brush better and for longer. Unfortunately, an early version of the app was so effective that it had the unintended side effect of keeping enthusiastic players awake past their bedtimes.
The new Philips Sonicare for Kids toothbrush connects to an app that rewards little ones for brushing each of the four quadrants of their mouth for up to two minutes. An adorable, computer-generated fluff ball called Sparkly is the star of the game, and when children brush their teeth they can see Sparkly brushing along with them. Brushing earns them points, which they can then use to customize and feed their Sparkly.
Boon Lai, VP of marketing for Philips Health and Wellness compared the app to Tamagotchi, the addictive digital pet from the '90s. Ninety-eight percent of parents said the app made it easier to get kids to brush better and longer versus using a toothbrush alone.
The downside: some young players just couldn't tear themselves away from Sparkly, even after they'd finish brushing. To address this, Philips reprogrammed the app so that Sparkly now collapses in exhaustion shortly after the brushing is compete.
Philips is now planning to develop an app-connected toothbrush designed for adults. Sounds like the perfect antidote to our Candy Crush addiction.