In this interview, we speak to Severin Stalder, CEO of Zaamigo, about their AI dental camera and how it is helping to improve people's dental hygiene.
Please can you introduce yourself and tell us about your role at Zaamigo?
Hi! I am Severin and the founder and CEO of Zaamigo.
Zaamigo aims to ‘bring healthy teeth and a beautiful smile into everyone’s reach.’ Please can you tell us more about why you decided to found Zaamigo and what some of your aims and missions are?
I was quite shocked when I first examined my teeth. The teeth looked white in the mirror, but the back side was black, and there was plenty of tartar. I decided to improve my dental hygiene and observed my progress with a camera. Now everyone can do the same and much more easily.
We are working towards an “AI-dentist” with the collected expertise of the best dentists. We want to make the vast experience of dentists available to everyone instantly.
Image Credit: bbernard/Shutterstock.com
People miss 40% of tooth surfaces when brushing their teeth. Why is this, and what effects are associated with poor brushing?
We brush our teeth every day, but with hardly any feedback. That’s really difficult. It’s like singing without listening, walking without seeing, or cooking without tasting.
The effects of poor brushing are numerous. Almost everyone suffers from cavities, and almost half of the population has chronically inflamed gums. These diseases cost quite a lot of money and impact our overall health. The bacteria from the mouth find their way into the whole body, even our brains.
But it is not just that. Poor oral health is also visible to everyone. That’s why we aim for healthy teeth and a beautiful smile. It’s always linked together.
At Zaamigo, you have created a dental camera that is able to provide in-depth analytics of your teeth. Please can you tell us more about how this camera works and the information it gives users?
The camera connects to iPhones and iPads wirelessly. The images are then analyzed on the device with our AI algorithms that were trained on hundreds of thousands of images. We analyze each image for stains, plaque, inflamed gums, and brushing technique.
The result is an overview to highlight areas that are often missed during daily dental care. The amount of plaque is compared to our user base to give a sense of urgency. The results are also quantified and can be tracked over time.
That's the smartest camera for a healthy smile
Your dental camera is also connected to a mobile app where users can earn badges when improving their dental care. Why did you choose to gamify your app, and what advantages does this have for engaging various demographics?
We want to coach our customers to do a better job. There is usually quite a difference between manual and electric toothbrushes. Our algorithms are able to detect that. They also notice if someone is not flossing frequently enough.
We chose to package these tips into badges. It’s a playful and engaging way, especially for the younger demographic.
Your Zaamigo camera is also designed in the shape of a toothbrush. Why did you choose this design for your product, and are there any advantages to its shape?
Our camera has the shape of a professional intra-oral camera. Just like the toothbrush, it’s able to reach and sense all surfaces of the teeth. Teeth are really quite small and would be difficult to see with a larger camera.
We are seeing increased use of artificial intelligence within healthcare for varying applications. How important of a role do you believe AI will have in the future of healthcare?
A huge one. Physical examinations are rare, inconvenient, and expensive. AI and specialized sensors have the potential to know and guide us much better. There are so many examples to understand our sleep, mental health, or fertility better.
I am a data-driven engineer. I admire airplanes that become safer with every accident. It would be awesome if we designed our health in the same way - personalized and drawing from the vast experience of the whole of humanity. AI might enable us to do that.
Image Credit: Zaamigo
Zaamigo is an official ETH spin-off. In recent years, we are seeing more spin-off companies emerging from Universities around the world, especially in Europe. How vital are spin-off companies in furthering the continued development of various scientific sectors, and what makes spin-off companies like Zaamigo unique?
Spin-offs are magical places where a lot of innovation happens. Highly educated people work together with the speed of light to bring the latest results from academia into the industry.
Even the founders sometimes underestimate their potential impact. Thibaut Weise, for example, was asked during his Ph.D. exam if his technology would ever be mobile. He affirmed and jokingly added that it would require a huge backpack with GPUs and batteries. His technology made it into every iPhone only eight years later.
What’s next for Zaamigo? Are there any exciting projects/partnerships in the pipeline?
There are very exciting projects in the pipeline. We can’t wait to integrate the latest results from the lab into our product. Stay tuned and follow us closely.
Where can readers find more information?
On our website: https://www.zaamigo.com
About Severin Stalder
Severin Stalder is the founder and CEO of Zaamigo. Previously he worked at the Augmented Reality company Magic Leap and on the 3D scanner CEREC Primescan at Dentsply Sirona. He holds a Ph.D. from ETH Zurich and studied Electrical Engineering at EPF Lausanne and the University of Tokyo.