Disrupting the Dentist – Kolibree goes head to head with Oral B on the Connected Toothbrush

Feb 27, 2014
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After making its first appearance at CES in Las Vegas earlier this year, French startup Kolibree likely woke up to a rude awakening when Proctor & Gamble announced that they would be launching a Connected Toothbrush under the Oral B brand – the ‘rude awakening,’ of course, comes from the fact that this was the very product that Kolibree had demoe-ed just 45 days earlier (allegedly, among the visitors to the stand were the P&G team in charge of the connected toothbrush, who dismissed Kolibree’s product).

P&G’s apparent short-term amnesia aside (their announcement describes their toothbrush as the first connected toothbrush), the product’s look quite similar, and claim to perform more or less the same function: using a sensor-enabled brush head and a bluetooth-enabled handle, the brush tracks where you brush (and where you don’t), and gather’s data on your habits which can be seen via smartphone app (by yourself, or by your dentist).

I dismissed the concept earlier this year when I tested it out on Tech24, but as I spoke earlier this month with Thomas Serval, co-founder & CEO of Kolibree, I understood that Connected Toothbrush aren’t about tracking your habits, but about communicating them to your dentist. Alongside Withings’ connected blood pressure monitor, a handful of startups are going beyond measuring how far you run, how many hours you slept for & what you eat to measuring the very things that doctor’s and dentists can use in order to make informed decisions about your health.

It is no longer the job of your Dentist or Doctor to weigh you, take your temperature, or even take X-ray’s of your teeth – these are mechanical tasks that can be done by machines in your home, meaning that doctor’s appointments only need to be set when a red flag goes off in your data, and more specific tests (which, over time will become more & more easy to do at home as technology develops) or follow-up tests when symptoms appear.

Dentists & Doctors won’t be happy about this, so don’t expect them to roll out the red carpet for these startups. Much like we’ve seen in many other sectors, these startups are going to eliminate jobs, but they’re also going to reduce the cost of health care. Why should I get charged so much when my data suggests I’m at a lower risk for, say, cavities?

Take the industries you know today that were, 50 years ago, seen as the best industries to work for – the Industrial sector, the Doctor’s, Psychiatrists, etc. – the elevated salaries of these jobs came from the fact that they required educated and smart brains in order to perform them with minimal error. With computers on the verge of becoming smarter than humans (according to Google’s latest head of Engineering, Ray Kurzweil), all of these jobs are about to be eliminated – or rather, replaced, by a need for a human interface to evaluate & analyze the data, provide meaning to 1’s and 0’s, as we are seeing in already disrupted sectors like finance.

We’ll be talking about Connected Health and the future of MedTech at the Connected Conference on June 18th-19th. Get your tickets today and save 200€!