Apprentice Toothbrush Task and Innovate Design

In Series 16 of The Apprentice, Innovate Design was asked to help candidates in delivering the finished prototypes of a brand-new smart toothbrush aimed at children between six and eight, along with an accompanying app to further encourage teeth brushing.

The boys’ team came up with an infamous brown “wand” shaped brush and a wizard-based app. The girls’ team created a colourful rocket-shaped brush with a terrifying “tooth” character. In less than a day, Innovate Design helped the candidates produce working prototypes that should have taken more than 6 months to develop!

Part 1: Preparation


The team began by developing the smart technology inside the brush. Nick was the electronics lead – “We put in a number of sensors to detect the orientation of the brush, how vigorously they were brushing and whether they were pressing too hard”

Charlie and Ben helped the candidates with their brush concepts. Charlie recalls – “After we did all the sketching, we looked at the logo and branding design, and with only a couple of weeks to go before filming we decided to do the packaging as well.” The team worked with Colour, and they agreed to make the packaging prototypes overnight.

Sulli and Isaac turned the brush concepts into physical prototypes. They practiced several designs to ensure they could go from idea to 3d model to prototype in 16 hours.


In the app team, Kinkit and Daniel worked on brush character design and animation. The team then paired this with motion capture suits from Xsens. This suit enabled the candidates to move and dance about and have the characters mimic it perfectly.

The brush character had to be combined into an app – that’s where Adam and Olivia came in. Olivia explains – “Apps normally take months to develop but to save time with this we made a variety of app templates in advance.”

This meant candidates could drag and drop their character animations and artwork straight into pre-set templates.

Part 2: Filming


After months of preparation, it was finally time to film the show. The whole team met at the Salisbury studio which would be the filming location for the app part of the task. The brush team set off to the London filming location at Here East.


Filming started late so Charlie and Ben were only left with 30 minutes to sketch the brushes. Isaac and Sulli turned the brush sketches into 3d models and sent them to be 3d printed.

Over in Innovate Design’s Salisbury design studio work began on the app at around 3:30 pm. Once the apps had been created the Innovate team helped candidates build their characters. Dan had less than 20 minutes to design the tooth for the girl’s team, but he was pleased with the result


The app design went on and on. Olivia gave the app one final test and at 3 am (in the morning!) the team bustled Nick into a taxi for London. The team reconvened in Isaac’s hotel room to build the apps and connect them to the toothbrushes.


At 6am a taxi collected the team and they drove to the candidate’s house. Sulli and Isaac were given space in the garage where they finished building the prototypes. The production team filmed the candidates receiving them and then they split into teams to take the brushes to present to industry experts and a group of children for feedback.

Once the task was complete James had a chance to reflect on what they had achieved – “The design team have been amazing to work with I’m so impressed by the way that they’ve handled themselves with high pressure of cameras and the time that they had, they did an amazing job, really proud of them.”


The Apprentice, Series 16 Episode 2, is available on Iplayer.

If you have an idea for a new toothbrush or any other product for that matter, Innovate may be able to help. Innovate Design develops a variety of product ideas including consumer products, electronic products, apps, fashion and more. Their prototyping, idea protection and production services help you make the most out of your innovation.

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