UCL Engineering


Playbrush: UCL graduates use gaming to get children to brush their teeth

Graduates from UCL’s Technology Entrepreneurship MSc have developed a business that’s transformed toothbrushing for kids.

A child using Playbrush technology to brush their teeth.

5 November 2021

Getting children to brush their teeth is a struggle experienced by parents around the world every morning and evening.  

But Paul Varga, a UCL graduate of the MSc in Technology Entrepreneurship, felt there must be a simple solution. Developing ideas with fellow graduate Tolulope Ogunsina and Matthäus Ittner, Paul came up with the concept of Playbrush. 

Playbrush is an interactive smart toothbrush that connects to games on a smartphone or tablet via Bluetooth. While brushing their teeth, children can save the tooth fairy, fly aircraft or win dance battles. An algorithm measures each toothbrushing session, to make sure teeth are cleaned properly, for the right amount of time. The app provides real-time feedback with statistics and a reward system to give children extra motivation. 

The business started when Paul won a UCL Bright Ideas Award (now the ‘Build your own business 3: Launch your business), securing investment in the new company. He also received business advice from UCL Innovation & Enterprise, as well as free office space at BaseKX, UCL’s entrepreneurship hub.  

Six years on, and Paul and his team have taken Playbrush into 25 countries, selling over 300,000 units, raising millions in further funding and winning multiple awards. They now have a successful line of smart toothbrushes, apps and games, for children and adults, and in 2021 were acquired by oral-care company Sunstar. 

Co-founder and CTO, Tolulope Ogunsina said: “At the core of the business, we’re solving a health problem. We’re fighting tooth decay and helping people to have confident smiles. The end goal is to have Playbrush in every bathroom in the world.” 

Read the full story on the UCL Innovation & Enterprise website.


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