Philips Sonicare For Kids

Establishing a lifetime of healthy oral healthcare habits.

The Ask

The Philips Sonicare team, makers of the #1 recommended brand by dental professionals, wanted to build upon the success of their rechargeable power toothbrush for kids. By harnessing the latest in Bluetooth connectivity, there was an opportunity to create a holistic brushing experience for kids that was so compelling that they would proactively ask to brush their teeth, while learning proper brushing techniques that would benefit their health for decades to come.
Additionally, as Philips Sonicare for Kids is a F.D.A. regulated medical device, the product couldn’t just claim to work. As all Philips Sonicare toothbrushes have strong clinical claims, there needed to be supporting evidence that the companion application would add meaningful value regarding engagement levels. A robust research plan, including per-user analytics, was required to provide the proof and traceability for Philips’ marketing claims.

“… a device that accomplished the inconceivable: It made oral hygiene so fun that kids want to stay on top of it.” – Gizmodo

The Actualization
We started with identifying what would truly motivate our audience, which we identified through several rounds of contextual interviews in participants’ homes, early prototypes, and concept tests, real-time data analytics, and even visits to multiple dentist offices, to ensure professional feedback was incorporated into the product’s value proposition. This led to a very powerful insight: while most kids turn brushing into a battle, they don’t actually dislike it. In fact, the feeling of a clean mouth is extremely motivating to them. They simply don’t like to stop what they are doing, or don’t want to do what follows brushing teeth (going to bed, for example), so it became a stall tactic.
With this in mind, it was clear the connected experience needed to be more than just a glorified toothbrush timer or a game. We needed kids to feel empowered to brush on their own, while still providing significant education around how and why to brush. This led to the creation of an original character Sparkly, a cute fur-ball in desperate need of brushing help. Sparkly was designed to trigger care and nurturing impulses in kids, which sparks a strong emotional connection with the character. Because Sparkly has tiny arms, it can’t properly care for its teeth. The only way to help him is to follow along with the guidance on-screen twice a day. The application showcases the desired movement of the toothbrush, providing real-time coaching for proper technique, as instructed by dental professionals. When they finish, kids receive a present from Sparkly. This variable reward completes the engagement loop (a critical component of Motivational UX™) when they finish a full 2 minutes of brushing and triggers the desire to return again.
We heavily measured and analyzed user engagement, which informed the design of features like the Parent Dashboard that follow strict COPPA guidelines. It allowed us to incorporate motivational factors that kids resonated best with, based on hard data, not general self-reporting which can be unreliable.

Real-time data analytics allowed us to evaluate engagement levels, which in turn, informed design and development features like the Parent Dashboard, that provide increased value to parents and kids alike.

The Accolades

  • W3 Silver Winner: Mobile Apps/Sites – Health & Wellness
  • W3 Silver Winner: Mobile Features – Best User Experience
  • Davey Award Silver Winner: Mobile Apps/Sites – Health & Wellness for Mobile
  • Davey Award Silver Winner: Mobile Features – Best User Experience for Mobile
  • 98% of parents agree that kids brush better with the Philips Sonicare For Kids toothbrush and application
  • Development of an original, trademarked 3D character and game
  • 4.7 overall user rating
  • Featured in: PC Magazine, Gizmodo, and Tech Times


  • Concept Testing
  • Value Proposition Definition and Validation
  • Custom IoT Analytics and Individual User Dashboards
  • User Research: In-lab and Contextual (in home and at dentist)
  • A/B Testing
  • Pilot Testing and Data-based Claims
  • Motivational UX
  • User Experience Design
  • User Interface Design
  • Agile Software Development (with Philips team across 3 continents)
    • iOS Development
    • Android Development
  • Quality Assurance

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