Beware of tooth decay.
When I was a kid and I had a craving for sweets, adults often warned me like this.
Cruelly, more than twenty years later, I heard this warning again, this time from a research report.
According to the “Fourth National Oral Health Epidemiological Survey Report”, the tooth decay rate of 15-year-old adolescents is less than 45%, while the tooth decay rate of adults aged 35-44 is as high as 89%. By the age of 65-74, this figure is even higher. It soared to 98%.
Yes, more adults than teenagers have tooth decay.
So when most people feel that electric toothbrushes have little room for innovation, Liu Ming, co-founder of usmile, really cannot ignore this “obvious bug.”
If everyone’s products are very good and there is no room for innovation, then why can’t most Chinese consumers avoid tooth decay?
This shows that in fact, no one has done a good job of brushing their teeth.
He also realized that Smile Plus needs to break away from the usual path of “volume parameters” in the industry and find a new direction that can truly help users solve problems.
After three years of development, SmilePlus officially released its first “digital toothbrush” F10 PRO yesterday, creating a long-term intelligent oral health management track with technology based on data and AI models.
Use self-research to break the deadlock in industry innovation
As an “imported product” with a history of only more than 20 years in China, electric toothbrushes have been dominated by foreign brands for a long time, and most domestic products can only follow the “roll” trend.
This kind of “roll” is divided into two types. One is the “roll” price, setting up a simple production line to compete for the market at a low price; the other is the “roll” parameter, pursuing higher motor speed, etc., without fundamentally rethinking it. What exactly do consumers need?
Judging from the penetration rate of electric toothbrushes in the first ten years after entering China, this passive and conservative path is not necessarily effective. Until 2015, the penetration rate of electric toothbrushes in China was only 5%.
In the same year, usmile was officially founded and chose the more difficult path of self-research and innovation.
In order to create an electric toothbrush with outstanding technology, Smile Plus has established a “Human Efficacy Testing and Evaluation Laboratory”, “In Vitro Efficacy Laboratory”, “Intelligent Hardware Laboratory” and “Raw Materials and Formula Laboratory”.
Now, Smile Plus’s R&D team exceeds 40% of the company’s total headcount, and its cumulative R&D investment exceeds 500 million. For Liu Ming, these are the basics:
Technical barriers are built up brick by brick.
Others can also base, but we have to base faster and more solidly.
So far, SmilePlus has produced more than 500 technology patents. Two of the patented technologies have also been listed as measurement and testing standards for the development of electric toothbrush and toothbrush products.
By 2023, usmile’s investment and accumulation have achieved important milestones.
Multiple data this year show that the domestic sales of this new domestic consumer brand, once labeled as an internet celebrity, have surpassed those of foreign giants Philips and Oral-B.
According to the “Oral Care Industry Briefing from January to August 2023” released by the China Oral Cleaning and Care Products Industry Association, the top three brands are usmile, Philips, and Oral-B, with online retail sales accounting for 28.1% and 20.7% respectively. %, 9.7%.
According to a survey by Sullivan, an international consulting agency, usmile Smile Plus will rank first in toothbrush sales in China in the first half of 2023.
Also in this year of 2023, usmile Smile Plus will usher in another important turning point and launch a new species “Digital Toothbrush”.
Although teeth are the hardest organ in the human body, they cannot withstand time without protection.
In 2001, the World Health Organization proposed the “8020” plan, striving to ensure that the 80-year-old population should have at least 20 functional teeth.
What prevents the elderly from achieving this goal and becoming “old-fashioned” is generally not a major problem, but periodontal disease caused by poor tooth brushing and oral care habits over a long period of time.
This is also the starting point for Smile Plus to propose the concept of “digital toothbrush”. It cannot be limited to cleaning power and convenience. Only toothbrushes that can accompany users and change with their needs can meet the needs of different stages.
Digital toothbrush: From “teaching people to brush their teeth well” to “helping people brush their teeth well”
Brushing teeth is like being a human being. I understand the principles, but I just can’t do it well.
The most basic thing of brushing your teeth twice a day is only available to 36% of adults in our country. As for the “Pasteurized tooth brushing method” recommended by the WHO, the method is very clear, but doing it every day is another matter.
Electric toothbrushes can help us “save effort”, but to brush my teeth correctly, I need the support of a “student”.
Smile Plus does not provide each user with a “brushing instruction manual”, but directly trains the “student master” F10 PRO to “help you brush your teeth well”:
We can only use innovation in tools to allow users to brush according to their usual habits without spending any extra effort, and the brushing effect is better than before.
The digital toothbrush F10 PRO seems to have an extra “brain” – it not only understands the “Pasteuric brushing method”, but also uses this knowledge to “adapt to you”.
Just like the folding screen that has become popular among young people, the two screens on the body create more possibilities for use scenarios.
The front screen is like a friendly guide, guiding users to choose a more appropriate rhythm from “smart mode”, “cleaning mode”, “brightening mode” and “care mode”.
After we start brushing, the back screen will start to measure and display the progress of our plaque removal.
Plaque is the most important substance that needs to be removed when we brush our teeth. If it is not brushed clean, in the long run, tooth decay and periodontal disease will be waiting for us.
According to reports, the data here is not real-time detection of dental plaque data, but the calculation results of an evaluation system based on 100,000 sets of dental plaque sample data.
It infers the extent of plaque formation based on the time between brushings and evaluates the cleaning status based on our movements while brushing.
Liu Ming recalled that the algorithm team recruited from the mobile phone industry was very confident when they arrived, saying that they would be able to solve it in half a year.
As a result, it lasted two years.
Mouth recognition algorithms are much harder than many things.
It is even more difficult than drones and sweeping robots, because although the drone is in a three-dimensional space, it has no obstacles and can move in a wide range. The sweeping robot operates on a two-dimensional plane.
The “topography” in the mouth is a three-dimensional complex space, and the movements of brushing teeth are very similar.
According to product director Wang Yiheng, the algorithm in the oral cavity relies on speculation, and its technical barriers “come from medical analysis, many of which require clinical experiments and user data collection and analysis.”
Wang Yiheng is well aware that algorithmic capabilities cannot be perfected in one or two years, and the team still “remains in awe of this matter.”
There is a doctrine in medicine called “empirical medicine” to “precision medicine.”
Digitalization is the best way to evaluate. We know that there is a problem when a person’s heart rate and blood oxygen exceed a certain number.
Wang Yiheng said that this is also the reason why he prefers to call the product “digital toothbrush” rather than “AI toothbrush”.
AI is just a means, numbers can solve the problem.
When we brush our teeth, the F10 PRO’s built-in sensor will record our brushing movements and angles in real time, measure the degree of plaque cleaning, and present it in the most intuitive percentage.
It’s like having an extra “progress bar” when brushing your teeth, and the process is no longer “empty”.
At the same time, F10 PRO will also silently adjust the intensity and vibration mode according to the “Pasteurian brushing method” to reduce the user’s learning cost of “brushing teeth correctly”.
Good students will be here, let’s just relax and brush up.
After brushing, we can see from the front screen whether we missed any brushes this time, and then brush specific areas as recommended.
Although we all think that we have done everything, data points out that 35% of users miss it.
With the support of “Xueba”, we can not only enjoy the automatic “paste brushing” silently, but also intelligently “check for leaks and fill in the gaps”.
In the medium to long term, F10 PRO also wants to help users establish better brushing habits.
On the one hand, based on the “brushing model”, it will brush more and more “intimately”.
After two weeks of brushing, F10 PRO generates an exclusive mode based on user usage habits, allowing a single toothbrush to be used by “thousands of people and thousands of brushes”.
For example, if I usually brush my teeth too hard, this exclusive model will automatically reduce the toothbrush strength.
On the other hand, it also wants to be the user’s “digital oral health manager.”
Combined with the “Smile Plus” app, we can set dental care goals according to our own preferences, and let the system develop a brushing plan for us. After completion, we will receive medals, which will naturally make us more motivated to brush our teeth.
At the same time, the app will also generate a brushing report, allowing users to understand their brushing habits just like looking at exercise data.
All data must be digitized before it can be combined with medical principles.
In the longer term, F10 PRO even supports OTA system updates, allowing toothbrushes to bring more new experiences through system updates just like mobile phones.
Compared with the pure “output” of electric toothbrushes, digital toothbrushes have greater ambitions. They want to “grow” over the years – they need to understand user habits better and better, and they also need to become more advanced and smart through system updates.
Smile Plus firmly believes that digital toothbrushes are the future.
At the same time as the release of F10 PRO, SmilePlus also announced the launch of an electric toothbrush recycling event.
Users who bought U1 and Y1 from 2016 to 2019 can deduct the corresponding amount from the original price of the old product (whether broken or not) when purchasing F10 PRO.
According to reports, SmilePlus has invested 500 million yuan in this effort and plans to spend three years to help 60 million electric toothbrush users around the world enter the digital toothbrush era.
Once upon a time, Smile Plus was like an undercurrent, silently driving innovation in the domestic electric toothbrush market.
Now, it once again shows its edge and strives to subvert the traditional norms of the industry – our expectations for electric toothbrushes are no longer limited to excellent durability and practicality. It must have the wisdom of learning and continuous evolution to keep up with consumers.
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