SXSW 2018: Nanotechnology, water and Hollywood white teeth5 minutes
Innovating on an innovation may lead to a new use for water, and new smiles
Ever dream of flashing a smile like Penelope Cruz, Zac Efron, Usher or another celeb with great teeth? It turns out that water may help.
Nano-sized electrostatic atomized water particles are being used to deodorize clothes, reduce damage caused by brushing and drying hair, and clean tainted indoor air in homes and trains. Now these chemical-free particles, made through a proprietary Nanoe-like technology, are ready to whiten teeth, and they’re one of the crazy cool things @SXSW.
Innovating on an innovation
Nanoe are tiny particles created by gathering invisible air moisture and applying high voltage to that moisture to yield electrostatic atomized water. Panasonic developed the technology for producing these particles, which are a billion times smaller than steam particles. It all began back in 2001 with a question: “Why can’t we use water's natural tendency to dissolve odor-causing substances to purify air?” Engineers figured out that these water particles invisible to the human eye could penetrate deep into fabric to safely remove odor. Fast forward to 2003 when Nanoe tech was introduced as part of an air purifying system. The success of Nanoe in improving indoor air quality took off globally—aided by developments like the Internet of Things—which meant sensors could automatically trigger an air purifying system using Nanoe to power on when pollutants were detected.
An enterprising engineer asked if Nanoe could be used on teeth. She began testing the tech and found it to be a gentle and effective cleaner.
Rise in popularity of teeth whitening
Pearly whites tend to darken with age. Drinking red wine, black tea and coffee hastens the process. Studies show that 18-52% of people dislike their color of their choppers, according to a recent report in the BBC. In the U.S., teeth whitening is among the most popular dental procedures. In Canada the popularity of tooth whitening has grown at unprecedented rates, according to the Canadian Dental Association.
Meanwhile oral health experts are looking for alternatives to certain home-based whiteners like charcoal and damaging gels. The U.K.’s Oral Health Foundation recently put out a statement saying that the impact of activated charcoal used for tooth whitening may be exaggerated and worse, bad for teeth.
Cleaning teeth during a commute
Designers working on the Nanoe-like tooth technology wanted a way to deliver it in a gentle, convenient way. They came up with a special device that easily fits in a purse or small backpack. The device atomizes water particles in a small compartment that fits around the user’s neck and can be applied to the teeth through a thin tube and, ultimately, a mouthpiece similar to a protective guard for sports.
Nanoe tooth technology can be linked to users’ smart phones. Before patients begin the process, they can take a selfie with the Nanoe’s proprietary app and continue to take pictures and see improvements. Research shows that people trying to whiten their teeth often look for changes in a mirror in inadequate light. The app is designed to do better by enabling the phone’s camera to recognize and compare the degree of whiteness on teeth, which helps the user track the advancements and stay motivated.
Already dentists are responding favorably. At the massive New York Dental Meeting at NYC’s Javits Center in 2017, professionals who saw the technology said they’d like to use it. Although the Nanoe tooth tech is not yet on the market, it’s among a series of home appliance innovations on display at SXSW in March. They’re all about creating a better experience for the consumer.