Thursday, January 1, 2009

Wireless Protocol for a Toothbrush

The most interesting gift I received this holiday season was a toothbrush. You've probably seen advanced toothbrushes before but this one really takes the cake. I'm talking about OralB's Triumph "smart" toothbrush. Like most advanced toothbrushes, the Triumph has a powerful mechanical head and also a timer that vibrates when you brush for long enough. However, the Triumph goes further by adding a wireless communication link with a base station. The base station displays your elapsed brushing time, the current brushing mode, a low battery warning, and tells you if you're brushing too hard. There are a few modifiable options and if someone else sticks on their own toothbrush head, it loads up their saved options. I can't go into all the features here... the manual is ten pages long. This may be toothbrush technology overkill... but who cares, its really cool!

The the real kicker here is the wireless technology. I wonder what wireless protocol OralB uses. The communication is fairly simple and the data rate is minuscule so I would bet that it is just an in-house protocol. But if it uses a WiFi connection, it would be fun to be able to log into your toothbrush's embedded web server and upload toothbrush mods. You could create your own brushing modes and customize their vibration pattern. By modulating the vibration pattern you could even make the toothbrush emit simple tones. Using a more complex pattern you could make your brush play songs while you brush.

Of course any wireless protocol does raise security concerns. A hacker could break into the toothbrush, and modify it to give you a sub-par brushing experience. A hostile country could attack our toothbrushing infrastructure to increase our national rate of cavities or gingivitus. OralB should know that any time you open up your device to the airwaves you have to protect it from malicious users.

...And I'm only half-joking about all of this.