When your dental insurer sends you a "free" Internet of Shit toothbrush


Amen, FuzzyFungus, amen.

You’re making the mistake of assuming the willfully uninsured are honest, though. My family also has the gene for ‘F#@% Da Man’, and can shift assets into invisible, unreachable crevices before anyone can grab 'em. A virtual game of 3 Card Monty, if you will.


The question of a mic seems like rather frantic speculation when a teardown could settle the issue; but as for “Is my insurance company using this data?” My 30 seconds of perfunctory googling led me to this:

When the fact that they use the data to adjust premiums is stated quite openly(the only weasel wording is the usual practice of stating the adjustments as ‘discounts’ for compliance rather than penalties for noncompliance) on their website; as a cool feature; I’d say that we can agree that they are probably using the data without cutting into our tinfoil budget too heavily.

This is about one step more overt than some of the deals between various ‘fitness trackers’ and insurance companies or ‘employee wellness programs’ that aren’t secret, and usually generate a press release or two; but aren’t give front-and-center coverage on the device maker’s site.



10-25%* lower rates

Experience the future of group dental insurance, for employers large and small.

An employer-mandatory bluetoothbrush, wheee!

What do you do with my brushing data?

First and foremost, we do not sell or share your brushing data with third parties.

The Beam Brush tracks usage to encourage better brushing habits amongst our members. Then, we collect that data in the aggregate so that groups receive the best possible rates on insurance premiums.

Better brushing leads to better plans and premiums for your group!

If you don’t brush, you’re costing the group money! There will be a Two Minute Hate in the lunch room at 12:30 today, followed by forced-brushing.

Is my personal and medical information secure with Beam?

All data is fully HIPAA compliant. We do not share or sell your data to any third party. Its primary purpose is to deliver the best dental insurance experience possible.

HIPAA, alrighty then.


Absolutely, and the original article could have also done 30 seconds of perfunctory googling and posted actual facts, rather than breathless paranoia about “oh golly, is this going to adjust my premiums??”

As you say, it’s exactly like the deals that companies like FitBit make with insurance companies, in which they’ll lower your premium as a reward for doing exercise with their product. It isn’t mandatory (despite what the article infers) but it’s a hamfisted way to intimidate people into using your product.


Yeah, when I saw this article the other day, I was quite irritated with it because the insurance company is obviously using that data, yet the article manages to be almost completely fact-free paranoia. But it’s not paranoia if they really are out to get you…


My partner works in the insurance business, so believe me, I have zero illusions about how incompetently greed-driven it is, and that profit is constantly maximized over patient health – and that they’re in a constantly escalating battle between doctors/hospitals trying to squeeze as much money out of every policy as possible, with patients stuck in between. It’s an ugly, nasty business.

But I also know that no insurance agency has the manpower or competency to spy on their customers with tiny microphones hidden in toothbrushes (so that they could, I dunno, listen to people pooping?)


"But it’s not paranoia if they really are out to get you…"

Hold on one moment…[dons tinfoil helmet]. That’s better. I don’t have a cellphone. This began because I find them to be VERY unreliable, the monthly service plan is orders of magnitude more expensive than a landline, and I’m not a volunteer firefighter. You wanna talk to me? Fine - leave me a voicemail, and when I climb out of the dumpster at work and get home, I’ll return your call. Now, with all the crap coming out about stalkers using the GPS trackers and Apple’s ‘planned obsolescence’ F#@%ery, I’m looking less and less tinfoilish.

How do you think I view ANY kind of IoT device? [dons second tinfoil helmet] I haven’t been convicted (yet), why is Da Man trying to make me wear an ankle monitor?


This brush can’t check if your are brushing your “mouth”, just sayin…


If one of us gets properly sick (or injured), we’ll be financially destroyed insurance or not. Last time we checked the marketplace, a Bronze level plan would cost us $14,000 per year and came with a $54,000 family deductible. That’s what, three nights in a hospital? Assuming the insurer doesn’t simply deny it for the heck of it.


Yeah, ignoring the very real dynamics of the insurance company making decisions based on the reportage of the toothbrush’s use in favor of very silly speculating about microphones in toothbrushes (for why?) was exactly what irritated me.


I dunnoh, they might find a lot of monetizable data by listening in on their customers pooping. On my long, long list of Reasons to Hate Cellphones are all the times my friends have talked to me while on the toilet. They even pause to grunt. Yucckkkkk!

[Snickering] I just realized - Internet of Shit, indeed!


I got a free tooth brush a year or so ago - a Philips Sonic Care from my dentist. I really like it. I don’t think it spies on me.


Yeah, I’ve had one for about 4 years. I didn’t like the idea of it sitting around on it’s ass, sucking up power when I only used it twice a day; so I plugged the charging base into a timer. It turns on for 1/2 an hour twice a day. Would that be like a tinfoil helmet for my toothbrush?


Reminds me of the Blonde who mistook her electric toothbrush for her vibrator and knocked all her teeth out…


I am reminded of something I witnessed while teaching English to corporation employees in China. While addressing a class one day I noticed about half the class “twirling” something that looked like a key chain. I asked what it was. Their company had issued them a device that measured how far they walked. You can finish the story. Someone has or will soon figure out a way to game it. Slaves gamed their owners all the time. and we are being enslaved. I almost wrote ‘again’ but someone would point out it never truly ended merely lessened. Cheers.


Doesn’t need to be microphones. Just time of day.

Let’s say someone brushes 3x per day, exceeding the basic expectations most dentists want to see. First brush around 10 AM, second around 7 PM, third around 2 AM. Logically, we can assume this person is more of a night owl who gets up late, brushes after they get home from work, goes to bed late. Insurer correlates the “night owls are slackers who DIE, DIE, DIE because they’re slothful, lazy, awful horrors who sleep late” hysteria that comes from sanctimonious morning people with this disgusting person who brushes 3 times a day, but not at socially approved hours. (And maybe on weekends, first brush is noon, second is around 9, third is 3 AM.) It doesn’t matter if this person works swing shift or tutors children after school or is a child psychologist who specializes in school age kids (and therefore works after-school hours) or is actually just a night owl who isn’t functional before 9 in the morning, or is not a night owl at all, but is an extreme morning person who wakes up at 2 in the morning and goes to sleep at 7 pm.

Now let’s assume this person has an accident - say, a car accident - that results in a couple of cracked teeth. (Happens all the time.) Leaving aside how bloody difficult it is to get car insurance to cover dental repairs (narrator voice: it’s really damn hard and often isn’t possible at all) the sleeping habit correlation gets tossed into the mess of liability and coverage. Even if that hypothetical car accident happened at 4:30 PM on a perfectly clear spring day, let’s watch the insurer’s attorney argue that the victim is actually at fault because they’re lazy slackers who sleep bad hours, so were clearly at fault, and then ta-da! This is now legal precedent.

I wish I was being more dramatic than just for funsies. (I am being a little dramatic. Most morning people are merely irritating and obnoxious in their self-perception of superiority.) But the issue of bad science becoming legal precedent is a real one, and crappy correlations being exploited for corporate gain is just SOP.


Actual microphone not needed, as long as the D/A converter that drives the coil moving the head has software selectable pin configuration, (which they pretty much all do these days), then the head itself is the microphone and it could pick up ambient sound 24/7 and upload it whenever it had a connection.


Actually, yes, it could, or at least something close to “teeth” with soft tissue in close proximity, just by looking at the waveform of the load.


Well, Thank God for that. I can only mooch my neighbor’s WiFi if I wave my laptop over my head to line up my laptop - my kitchen window - the window of his basement Troll lair.


I certainly don’t subscribe to the theory that the non-plutocrats are paragons of simple everyman virtue; it’s just that one class of grifters and con men are richly rewarded and treated as an indispensable element of the economy(not that it’s acceptable to speak of dispensing with them, that’s class warfare); and the other, while they can get away with it for an unfortunately long period of time; are confined to comparatively smaller takes and (when discussed in general terms or eventually caught) are considered to be scum.

That makes one of these much more dangerous than the other; with the comparatively rare exception of muggings that escalate into shootings and the like(which do happen, property crimes don’t always stay clean; but having that happen isn’t in anyone’s interest).

I’ve had a couple of burglaries and a few picked pockets; so I know that low-end criminals have targeted me; but I’d need some well placed leakers; a forensic accountant or two, perhaps an investigative journalist and some legal assistance to even know how much the higher end ones have taken me for(if we want to count indirect ‘taking’, like that that has kept wages at best flat in real terms since the 70s, probably a few economists on the team as well).