Scrubbing with a toothbrush that knows when you missed a spot

Oral-B is making smart toothbrushes smarter.

Mobile World Congress is predominantly about smartphones, however look hard enough and you'll find all sorts of other surprises too. Take Oral-B, which chose Barcelona as the place to announce the B-Genius, a new toothbrush that knows exactly where you're scrubbing. A built-in accelerometer clocks the angle, while your phone's front-facing camera tracks its location and your dentures. As you brush, the companion app highlights the places you've cleaned and the spots you might have missed. So of course, we had to try it for ourselves and see if it's worth the hassle.

Oral-B's New Smart Toothbrush

Once you've stumbled into the bathroom, you'll need to take out your phone and place it in one of Oral-B's new cradles. It's a simple piece of plastic with a pressurised suction cup that's simple enough to attach to a bathroom mirror. The front-facing camera needs to be at eye-level, so you'll probably need to remove the cradle after every use -- that could be a pain, but luckily it doesn't leave behind any marks or nasty gunk.

The toothbrush connects over Bluetooth and you can create a basic profile in the app, such as whether you have particularly sensitive teeth. Then you can pick a color for the light at the top of the handle (very important, of course) and start a new session. You'll see a circle in the middle of the screen, which turns green when your face is being recognised by the camera. A line underneath does the same, indicating that the phone is roughly level, and then you're ready to hit the button and start cleaning.

It's a bunch of tiny steps that I imagine would aggravate my sleep-deprived brain each morning. Thankfully, the actual brushing experience is top-notch. The app uses a simple six-segment diagram, which represents the left, middle and right parts of your top and bottom choppers. As you scrub, the blue panels slowly disappear until it feels that you've cleaned thoroughly. Part of me wanted more detail -- it would be great to know which particular teeth I'm missing -- but in this case, less is probably more. I don't think my brain wants that much information just after I wake up.

The Genius-B comes with the same tricks found in some of Oral-B's other "smart" toothbrushes. There are pressure sensors to stop you from brushing too vigorously (a common problem, I've been told) and a timer to make sure you clean for the dentist-recommended two minutes.

Once I had finished, the app gave me a simple score grading my technique. It was a novel, but unsurprising analysis of my wonky teeth-cleaning habits. I'm intrigued by the general concept -- I want to know if I'm brushing my teeth properly -- but pairing the device with my phone and setting up the app felt like a chore. Although I care about my dental health, I think a bare-bones electric toothbrush is just fine for me right now.