For most of us, brushing our teeth is just a tedious part of the daily grind. But for people with dementia or learning difficulties, such tasks can be difficult. They could soon gain more independence thanks to an AI designed by Christian Peters at Bielefeld University in Germany and his colleagues.
Peters has already come up with a system that guides people when washing their hands. Brushing teeth is more complicated because it involves many steps – such as putting toothpaste on the brush, filling a glass with water or rinsing the mouth.
The TEBRA system uses a video camera to monitor someone brushing their teeth and checks that each step happens at the right time. It prompts them via a screen on the washstand if they forget a step or if they get stuck. The idea is not to dictate a routine, but to adapt to that of the user, says Peters.
TEBRA is being tested at a care home in Bielefeld for people with learning disabilities. Caregivers there reported that the system was less distracting for some people than a human carer. The work will be presented at the International Conference on Health Informatics in Barcelona, Spain, next week. Peters also plans to adapt his system to tasks such as shaving.
This article appeared in print under the headline “Time to rinse! An AI to help you clean your teeth”
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