Omron Healthcare Co Ltd will release June 1, 2009, what it claims is the world's first electric toothbrush equipped with a three-axis acceleration sensor.
The sensor detects the angle of the toothbrush being used, determines what position in the mouth is being brushed, and automatically controls the vibration speed and direction. For example, when the toothbrush is brushing the surface of the back teeth, which cannot be easily polished, the vibration speed is boosted to 32,500 cycles/minute. And the speed is slowed down to 20,000 cycles/minute when it is brushing the periodontal pockets (the area between the teeth and gums).
The bristles vibrate vertically on periodontal pockets so that the bristles reach deep into the pockets, while they vibrate horizontally on the sides of teeth.
To mount the acceleration sensor in the electric toothbrush, Omron Healthcare used a substrate material that features higher vibration resistance compared with the materials for existing electric toothbrushes so as to prevent vibration of the motor from influencing the sensor. In addition, it revised the software to exclude the influence of the motor from the data detected by the sensor so that the motor's vibration does not affect the operation of the toothbrush.
Omron Healthcare has so far targeted low- to mid-price markets with products priced at about ¥8,000 (approx US$84.5) and lower, but the new product, "HT-B551," is positioned as a high-end product. There is no suggested retail price, but the expected street price is about ¥20,000, according to the company.
The company hopes to gain ground in the high-price market, which has been dominated by companies such as Braun GmbH of Germany and Royal Philips Electronics of the Netherlands, by releasing the world's first electric toothbrush equipped with an acceleration sensor.
It will launch the "HT-B550," which has fewer functions and brushes compared with the HT-B551 and is priced lower by about ¥3,000, at the same time. The company aims to sell a total of 50,000 units of the two models in one year after the release.
The products feature a new chassis design and new functions of the charger in addition to the built-in acceleration sensor. While the former models are pen-shaped, the new models are S-shaped, making it easier for the bristles to contact tooth surface.
There are dents on the grip to indicate the places where the thumb should be placed to keep the bristles at an angle of 45° against the periodontal pockets. There are four dents on the grip so that users can select a dent that matches their dominant hand and the length of their fingers.
The battery is a nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) secondary battery, which is also used in existing models. The charger has LED lamps arranged to form a circle. When the toothbrush is pulled out of the charger, the lamps arranged at an interval of 60° light up one after another every 20 seconds in a clockwise direction. This prevents uneven brushing and over brushing because the user can visually check the elapsed time, according to Omron Healthcare.