Project image
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$3,276
pledged of 57 500 $pledged of 57 500 $ goal
43
backers
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Tue, June 24 2014 3:59 AM UTC +00:00
$3,276
pledged of 57 500 $pledged of 57 500 $ goal
43
backers
Funding Unsuccessful
The project's funding goal was not reached on Tue, June 24 2014 3:59 AM UTC +00:00

About

The Toothbrush Training Game
The Toothbrush Training Game

Kids can brush much better.
Let's give them the chance.

Brush Up is a toothbrush training game for children.
We are raising money to manufacture the digital brush that has performed so well as a prototype.

 

Brush Up has been our passion project for years. We have squeezed decades of game making expertise into a few minutes at the bathroom sink. We know how kids have fun - and we know how they learn.

Our early experiments used a modified Nintendo WiiMote for real time feedback. Now the game uses our own child-friendly BlueToothbrush, a smart toothbrush that connects to modern Android and iOS devices with Bluetooth LE.

Our team of accomplished artists and scientists has spent years refining the game. This dedication has paid off with dramatic evidence of skill acquisition and long-term retention. We end up with happy, empowered children.

Brush Up offers a healthy life-long habit for $69.

     $69 MSRP is discounted for Kickstarter friends. See below.

We made it for you, Ethan.

You have a great Mom. She works hard all day taking care of you. So by evening time, she is exhausted. So are you. (The difference is that she knows she's tired.) 

She would be really happy if just this once you brushed your teeth for a whole minute without a fight.

Mom wants more from you than a minute of aimless swabbing, She tries to teach you to brush beautifully all by yourself. But she can't see what's going on in your mouth.  She is really smart, but lots of smart Moms and Dads aren't really sure what's actually supposed to go on in that mouth of yours. 

The lady at the dentist office knows what you should do. Of course, it is isn't easy to listen when you are a little terrified. Anyway, you only see her for a few minutes twice a year.

With Brush Up, you can learn to brush by yourself.

Game

MEET BUDD, the Brush Up Demo Dude,.

He's your brush buddy as you learn more about the inside of your mouth.

You'll like Budd. He's funny. But he’s serious about clean teeth. He's kind of cute and his head is the perfect shape to let you see his fine brushing skills.

Brush Up with Budd.

Every night, you score points when you brush. The better you brush, the more points your earn. The best way to measure better brushing is with the BlueToothbrush.

Use your points to unlock in-game prizes. There are loads of goodies for you to earn. When Budd's bathroom is filled with prizes, you can start a new room.

At the end, the nice lady from the Dentist's office pops up with a great smile for you. Afterward, Budd can send a message to Mom or Dad to tell them how well you are doing.

Music

We tried a dozen versions of our song with kids. We had every genre from Radio Disney to Gaucho Punk. The kids surprised us. They didn't want juvenile tunes. They liked the same one we liked!

Maestro Vernon Simms showed his sweet side with happy hip-hop that he beat-matched to the ideal toothbrush tempo.
Maestro Vernon Simms showed his sweet side with happy hip-hop that he beat-matched to the ideal toothbrush tempo.

.

BlueToothbrush

Brush Up works best when it can sense the child's performance. This means a special-purpose electronic brush with an embedded sensor array.

Electronics  
We began our brushing game experiments with easily available Wii controllers (Wiimotes). As our software become more sophisticated, we hacked the Wiimotes. (Fun!) Then we moved to a series of experimental boards using the superior Bluetooth Low Energy protocol. At each step, we reduced the footprint, power consumption and complexity. A slender shape is essential. Our toothbrush shape will not be defined by its electronics payload, but by the child's hand.

Our slender, powerful circuit board.
Our slender, powerful circuit board.


With our board ready, we hired a bright Industrial Designer to develop some stylish brushes. He delivered more than a dozen designs. They were all clever and most were quite tasty.

But they all felt wrong.

After all, our design principle is Fun follows function.

Human Factors

Our brush is shaped by the child's hand and its instinct to grip and to learn.

It is shaped by the task at hand, not by the style dictates of Soho or SoMa. 

We studied the anatomy and intelligence of the developing hand. The literature of juvenile toothbrush grasp architecture is sparse, so we built on it. We made instruments and took measurements in schools and at fairs. Our exasperated Industrial Designer quit, but we went on. We discovered a shape that’s functional.

13 grip prototypes: 4 rounds of shrinking electronics.
13 grip prototypes: 4 rounds of shrinking electronics.

Now we add the fun!

We added Budd to the BlueToothbrush. He integrates into the ergonomics. His neck provides the twirl stem and there is a good thumb stop under his chin. His antennae are at anti-roll angles to keep the bristles clean and dry. Of course, Budd's most important job is to charm the young brusher.

We are also releasing a simple Budd Brush. It has all the charm and ergonomics but none of the electronics. It is the perfect companion to the Brush Up game for young fans who don't have Bluetooth LE.

Budd Brush
Budd Brush

Parents Respond

Feedback from early trials (full comments on website):

  • This game has made a lot of difference in the way my daughter brushes her teeth.
  • I always wanted to help my children in this way, but I don't think I ever learned... The game made learning how to brush fun. 
  • Corbyn loved the game.
  • I like that the kids look forward to playing every day.
  • Chase has shown improvement in his brushing habits.
  • The kids now are spending more time in brushing their teeth and I can see the effect of playing the game.
  • The game was great - he was engaged in the game the entire time and seemed to grasp the brushing techniques. 
  • The game made it fun for her to learn how to brush her teeth better.
  • It's a fabulous game. The songs are effective... The positive comments work to encourage better trying.

Pros Respond

Tooth decay is a national epidemic. It’s America's most common infectious disease, and it attacks tissue that can't ever heal. 

Health professionals want effective weapons to fight this plague of plaque. Brush Up is such a weapon. 

For two years we have presented more and more data to health, science and game professionals. They have responded with surprising enthusiasm: wild applause, material support, excited invitations, and even spontaneous dancing in the conference room!

  • National Institutes of Health 
  • Centers for Disease Control (CDC) 
  • Games For Health
  • Serious Play Conference
  • Nintendo of America
  • Procter & Gamble

Ready for Roll Out

The project has matured and we're on schedule to deliver before Summer ends. 

  • Game is fun.
  • Skill Development is proven to be effective and persistent.
  • Circuit Boards are now in Phase II Field Testing.
  • Brush has great ergonomics and is becoming quite cute.
 
Manufacturability study
Manufacturability study

Help us tool up to build this hardware.
Your child gets the game and its BlueToothbrush.
You help Brush Up benefit millions of children.
Your funds pay for circuit boards, injection molds and quite a few new game goodies.

Brush Up is our baby. With your help, we will deliver by Labor Day.

Schedule

Anthony Lundy, EE, probes a prototype.
Anthony Lundy, EE, probes a prototype.
  • June 23  Kickstarter closes
  • July 4     Software & hardware ship to Beta level pledges
  • July        Tool Up for manufacturing
  • July         Package design and production
  • August    Logistics, Assembly, Distribution
  • Labor Day Delivery Target

Examine the Evidence

The National Institute of Health supported trials of Brush Up through the specialist National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research with institutional review by the Morehouse School of Medicine. The results of these studies are in this whitepaper now pending peer review at the journal of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

For over a year, these trials tracked brushing by a group of thirty-four diverse children, ages 5 and 6.

Does their brushing improve?

Consider these performance maps. Researchers recorded children brushing in the lab without help from parent, scientist, timer or music. They weren't playing a game during this test. 

They brush better in two weeks.

Each map shows toothbrush time. Bands indicate time on each tooth surface (inside, outside and biting). It takes 7.5 seconds to fill all three bands.

The first map shows how children brushed before playing the game. Despite life-long training by loving parents and professionals, these children do very poorly. They brush only surfaces that are easy to see and convenient to reach.

The children played the game at home every night with early prototype hardware. They were given no instruction by parents or researchers. 

The map below shows the brush pattern of children when they returned after two weeks. Again, they played without the game or any other guidance. There is stark improvement in their performance. 

Do they remember?

In a second study, children played for two weeks and then the game was taken away for a full year. Did they forget everything?

They retain improvement.

This early graph shows time on tooth surface. The grey area is their starting point. Before playing the game, they neglect large areas of the mouth. The blue line shows their best performance. Right after training they brush everywhere. 

The orange area shows the retained improvement. Although overall time has diminished, every area is brushed. There are no more neglected areas.

Rewards for Pledges

Unpledge anytime, unless it makes the project fail on the last day.
Unpledge anytime, unless it makes the project fail on the last day.
CREW
CREW

This is your ticket to ride with us. Welcome aboard.

PLAYER
PLAYER

Get the full paid-up version of Brush Up. Kids play and learn on Android and iOS devices. It works great. It works even better if you have the BlueToothbrush ($59 level).

BUDD BRUSH
BUDD BRUSH

Get an ergonomic brush with Budd's beautiful face. He's in your child's hand and he's on the screen, but there are no electronics. Get this if your device does not have Bluetooth LE.(Bluetooth Smart). Includes 2 extra heads.

BLUETOOTHBRUSH
BLUETOOTHBRUSH

Get the special ergometric cartoon brush with Budd on the outside and sensitive electronics sealed up inside. This offers the full Brush Up experience.

BETA BRUSH
BETA BRUSH

Get Beta software and a Prototype Brush. Each is a hand-crafted, 3D-print of food-safe resins and elastomers. A collector's item. You also get an upgrade later to the mass-produced brush for your child's everyday use.

Love
Love

 Appear in-game on your child's screen. Encourage your daughter with a private phrase. Or remind your niece that you are the cool uncle.

Dental Practice
Dental Practice

25 of your patients play the game in your office. (Read our whitepaper for an analysis of the value of a single three minute exposure.) They use the included BlueToothbrush with a disposable brush head and your special QR codes. Back home, your patients play the customized game that features your smiling face or that of your hygienist. Great to combat anxiety, missed appointments and patient drift.

Big Dental Practice
Big Dental Practice

100 of your patients play your customized game in your office and at home,

ROCKSTAR
ROCKSTAR

You are the star of a tradeshow appearance. Sing, pitch, dance and brush your teeth. Just not all at the same time. Join us on the front lines. If you thirst for attention, come drink from the firehose. Current plans include Las Vegas, Chicago, NY & LA. Includes hotel accommodations and dining.

JOURNEYMAN
JOURNEYMAN

You can join our team for a year and learn the awesome sauce of one of the world's most advanced learning game companies. Far more intense and personal than any academic program, it is also less expensive (and looks way better on your resume), Spartan room and board provided.


Our Studio

Fun came first. Our early games were successful mainstream entertainment. Maybe, when you were younger, you played our popular games: Dinotopia, Gettysburg or Pie Jackers?

However, an indie studio can’t survive unless it finds its sweet spot. Twelve years ago, we found ours:

        Play with purpose.

We are small studio, but we are recognized as leaders in the rapidly emerging field of Game-Based Learning. We make games to help intelligence analysts and to help remedial algebra students. We work with big government science agencies and small libertarian elementary schools. 

[Full studio bio.] 

We are the experts at game-based learning. For each game, we work with experts in the subject matter.

Science

We sought help from the National Institute of Health. Their scientific review panels and mentors helped us develop an experimental protocol that meets the highest standards. They guided us to assemble a team of all-star scientists.

Science: Dentists 

We have had help from six dentist advisers ranging from successful clinicians (like Dr. Eric Spellman of Larchmont, NY) to accomplished industry innovators like Dr. Paul Warren, of Procter and Gamble. 

But really, brushing is not exactly dentistry. It is dental hygiene.

Science: Dental Hygiene

Countless laboratories research dentistry, but there is only one research lab dedicated to dental hygiene. This is an emergent research discipline with only a few qualified scientists. We have caught a rising star.

Joyce Downs Flores, MS, RDH taught thousands of kids to brush their teeth as a working hygienist. Now she is a scientist at Old Dominion University’s Dental Hygiene Research Center.

Science: Developmental Perception

Young children perceive a different world than we do. At Emory University’s Child Study Center, the Spatial Cognition Lab explores how children see and imagine space and how they handle tools. The lab’s principal investigator, Dr. Stella Lourenco, brings these insights to our team.

Science: Biostatistics

Real science has demanding standards. We hold ourselves to such standards. Actually, we are held to these standards by Dr Traci Leong. She is the Lead Biostatistician at the Emory and Children's Pediatric Research Hospital. She oversees our experiments and analyzes the resulting data.

Traci’s daughter, Mylee has been our favorite formative test subject. And that's not all. As her dentist and her dad, Dr. Jonathan Dubin has watched Mylee play the game and helped refine its features.


Roots

Our Principal Dentist, Dr. Robert L. Jacobson, set up his first dental practice on the ground floor of this sunny old Staten Island house.

The office was bright and busy. Kids always love 'Smiling Bob'. 

His own six children lived upstairs. He hoped one of us would join him in his dental practice. His work inspired us, but we each followed a very different path. In fact, one went on to start a game studio. 

Now the circle has come around, and Dr. Jacobson is working with his son (and his grandson!) and their many talented colleagues to keep alive that spirit of happy, healthy childhood.

Risks and challenges

The software is solid and the chance of hardware mess-ups is small. I've been brushing my teeth with the prototypes since early March.

MANUFACTURING RISKS

We have made games for twenty years with very few schedule slips. But this is hardware manufacture and new things can go wrong with electronics, injection molding, assembly or logistics.

To mitigate this risk, we employ experienced experts and we study hard what we don't yet know. We take polymer seminars, factory field trips, and chase knowledge online.

REGULATORY RISK

The FDA and FCC require compliance. Not to mention COPPA and HIPAA. We want approval from the ADA, as well. So we stay current with compliance. We have been prime contractors nine times with the federal government, and this stuff doesn't scare us. Of course, you should never underestimate the power of bureaucracy

DISTRIBUTION RISK

We were once unexpectedly held at the App Store. We made a popular game for Random House but it was held without either approval or explanation for six weeks. We did not schedule for that delay. This was an expensive lesson and we don't waste expensive lessons.

UNKNOWN UNKNOWNS

Our biggest risks are the threats we don't expect. So we keep our eyes open and we stay in a fighting stance.

TM: "Brush Up" & "BlueToothbrush" are trademarks of GamesThatWork.

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    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    [ crew ]

    Thanks for your dollar and your interest. We are launching a rocket, and you are part of the crew.

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    [ game ]
    Includes 'crew' level + You will be among the first to get a copy of the released Brush Up game for Android or iPhone. This does not include the BlueToothbrush, but it includes great music and animation. And it includes Budd, the Brush Up Demo Dude, who happily guides your youngster toward a lifetime of clean teeth,

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    [ Budd Brush ]
    includes 'game' level + your child will play the game and brush with Budd. The cute Brush Up Demo Dude will be onscreen and on your child's ergonomic toothbrush, tuned for a sensitive grip. 3 heads are included, but no electronics. A great gift for children with older devices (ie: no Bluetooth LE).

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    [ BlueToothbrush ]
    includes 'game' level + when that first crate of BlueToothbrushes arrives at our loading dock, we will bust it open and mail one of those gleaming beauties right to you by US Mail.

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    [ Android Beta Tester]
    include 'BlueToothbrush' level + as soon as the Kickstart closes, we ship to our Beta Testers. Your gear may have 3D printing or even blue wires, but that's because you're on the ground floor. You are a member of a creative and critical community and you help put the last tweaks on a beautiful design, (And In the end, we'll update your brush.)

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    [ iOS BetaTester ] same as Android but iOS only.

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    [ Love ]
    includes BlueToothbrush level + your children (or grandchildren) will be brushing with someone they love: It is your face and voice that appears at the end of the game to congratulate or encourage them.

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    Pledge $299 or more About $299

    [ Dental Practice ]
    Includes 'BlueToothbrush' + 25 of your patients play the game in your office - with a disposable heads and personal QR card. At home they can play your practice's special version of the game where you (or your hygienist) appears to encourage them. Teach better hygiene and become a familiar face and you can expect a lot less anxiety.

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    [ Big Dental Practice ]
    Includes 'Dental Practice' + enough materials for 100 of your patients to play your customized game.

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    Pledge $2,500 or more About $2,500

    [ Toothbrush Rock Star. ]

    Be center stage at a big live appearance! Enjoy the attention of the crowd as you proudly demonstrate the game that you helped bring into the world. Hopefully there will a few video interviews as well. It's a little bit of show biz. Trade Show biz. Events currently include Las Vegas, Chicago, LA, NY. Lodging, dinner, and rockstar treatment included. First come, first choice.

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    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    [ Game Maker Journeyman ] Come to our studio and learn to do what we do. Spend a full year working with our engineers, artists and strategists. Working on Brush Up will teach you more valuable skills than any university can offer - and these will transfer well to innovative game based learning in many fields. Spartan room and board provided.

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Funding period

- (41 days)