A unique take on the electric toothbrush
Today we have more choice than ever before.
Simply buying a loaf of bread today is not as simple as it once was. Do you want white, brown, 50:50, whole grain. Sliced, un-sliced, Kingsmill, Hovis or the supermarkets own?
If you buy a new car, you not only choose the model but you choose the options that you want. Metallic paint, navigation, Bluetooth, sports seats, upgraded alloy wheels, colour and more.
Purchase a mobile phone and we personalise it with different colours, a cover, change the ringtone, the message alert tone, the wallpaper and more.
Buy an electric toothbrush and the choices are a little more limited. Whilst there are several leading brands each with a few different models, there are fewer options and when it comes to personalisation.
Lets take the Oral-B Pro 2000 as an example. A decent brush it comes in a white and blue colour with a CorssAction head, a built in pressure sensor and 2 cleaning modes.
What if however I want a travel case with it, or I would like the baby blue rubber to be replaced with a rich red? It is simply not possible. The best option you have is the interchangeable heads.
With this in mind you would have thought that when Ryan Donaghy who has designed the t.brush could well be on to a winner. He clearly thought so having registered it with the Intellectual Property Office. Ryan took his idea to Dragons Den a popular television programme here in the UK where influential business people look to invest in business ideas.
He was looking for £150,000 of investment in return for 11% of his company.
Unfortunately Ryan and the t.brush failed to win any funding as the dragons were not really able to see the potential opportunity and were concerned that it would be very easy for Oral-B, Philips and Colgate to replicate his idea. There was also a little concern over the exaggerated valuation which would equate to £1.5 million when 0 sales have been made to date. Although the high street store Boots had shown interest and were keen to place an order for £40,000.
Figures aside, what makes the t.brush different?
Primarily it is personalisation.
Ryan feels like many other products in our home, the toothbrush says something about you and the very clinical looking brushes we generally see today do not reflect our personalities and they should.
Just take a look at a few of the images below taken from t.brush instagram account you can see how different they are and will be when they go into production.
I most certainly agree that there is some scope for this and I am sure reading this you may feel the same. We personalise so many other things why not our toothbrush?
The problem that I see with this personalisation is that whilst the colours and designs may be more reflective of your preferences, it is still not truly personalised, you have to opt from a range of more expressive options.
However, does there come a point that a toothbrush is just that – a functional tool – and the question of personality and making a statement is so minor in the decision making process.
We may all prefer a colour or style but does it actually affect that final decision?
If you went and purchased a watering can would you opt not to go for it if it was red or green? Probably not because it serves a purpose. However if you were looking to buy a new phone or car and those were the only colour options you may look elsewhere, would I be right?
Function is of course what a toothbrush ultimately serves and those brushes from Philips, Colgate and Braun have been engineered in labs and with big budgets to design a brush head and cleaning experience that works. How will the t.brush compare? Will there be spare heads easily available? Will there be different heads for different users needs? Will the brush even have different cleaning modes or features such as a timer and pressure sensor?
At the moment many questions remain unanswered to provide a reasoned response and ultimately compare it to the ‘big boys’ within the oral hygiene world.
In addition to personalisation Ryan Donaghy has decided that the t.brush is to use a more premium battery than we currently see in electric brushes. Using a Lithium Polymer thet.brush is said to last 70% longer and take 3 x less to reach full charge, in comparison to most others available today.
Whether there is a requirement to charge quicker I am not too sure. Unlike a mobile phone that gets used much more frequently, does it actually make a difference that the brush charges faster when most of us leave it on charger all the time or overnight?
Of course we have all been in a situation where we have forgotten to charge our brush and in turn rapid charging could be useful, but these occasions are few and far between. The additional usage time of up to 70% is of course a real bonus, especially when the design of the main brush body is so slim.
This slim and tapered profile brings me onto another issue with the t.brush. It appears that style has taken priority over function and this concerns me a little. Whilst we all would like something in any situation that looks the part, when it affects the task it has to complete and the practicality it becomes an issue.
In this instance the t.brush does not stand up. Every other electric toothbrush I have seen does.
It may not need to stand, but there is an underlying expectation that it will. Whilst lying it down is no particular harm, the brush head can come into contact with things that it would not stood up.
It may be that you get in the habit of removing the brush head (if this is even possible) or there will be a stand for it. A few questions currently remain unanswered. At this time however the t.brush seems to challenge the norm.
Whilst this brush is aimed at a particular niche, the style conscious and those that want something different there is this question of balance and is it worth it.
I have not handled or physically seen the t.brush other than through online media, but the tapered handle makes me think that moisture will run down the body a bit quicker than it might on the squarer designs from Oral-B.
Personalisation adds some value as does the different design and improved battery performance but would you pay this when for about the same you could obtain one of the more premium brushes from other brands?
Personally when it comes to personalisation I want to be able to personalise the features as well as the look. Decide if it has a pressure sensor, how big the battery is and what comes in the box. Maybe one day we will get here. It would not be impossible, but for the commercial gain for the companies involved it probably is more hassle than it is worth, because as I mentioned earlier in the example of the watering can, we opt for the closest thing to what we want if what we actually want is not available.
A more likely option for personalisation will be some form of wrap for the brush. Think of a sleeve that you could custom design, it is printed and attached to your brush. It is an optional accessory that you would pay for if you wanted it. Perhaps done online and mailed to your door. Just a thought.
Correct me if I am wrong by leaving a comment below, but there is a space in the market for a more personalised brush but it is just how this personalisation comes about. Is t.brush the answer?
I can not help but feel if Oral-B for example employed Ryan’s passion and ideas but actually implemented it, their budget, routes to market and experience will allow for Ryan’s dream to become a reality, because the challenge faced by the t.brush is a big one.
This said though, unless someone challenges the norm we will not change what exists currently.
All the best to the Ryan and the t.brush, I do believe there are opportunities here despite the challenge. It would be a bit more fun reviewing a brush like that than many of the others we see today.
We here at Electric Teeth will be following what happens closely, a kickstarter campaign is expected soon, so if all this talk of personalised electric toothbrushes has got you keen for one, then the option may not be all that far away.
If you do have thoughts and comments on this, please leave them in the comments below, it would be great to hear what you think.