SmileDirectClub launches mouth-scanning iPhone app technology
SmileDirectClub is rolling out new technology that it says will allow you to use its app to 3D-scan your mouth and get a teeth-straightening plan using AI.
- So I tried it today.
State of play: The SmileMaker Platform is available in beta form in Australia for now but is expected to hit the U.S. in late 2022 or early 2023,
- Until now, SmileDirectClub customers who want to get their teeth straightened without visiting an office needed to order an impression kit.
- They would then put a dollop of putty in their mouth, bite down, ship it back to SDC and get their teeth-alignment plan within a few weeks before deciding whether to buy the company's removable plastic aligners.
How it works: The new system is supposed to take 1 to 3 minutes for the scanning process followed by 15 minutes to get your plan, chief information officer Justin Skinner tells me.
- As you point the forward-facing phone camera toward your teeth, the app gives you instructions on how wide to open your mouth and where to point your face — with the objective of scanning every corner of your teeth.
- After completing the scan, SmileDirectClub says customers will receive a free "custom smile plan," showing a rendering of what their teeth will look like.
- "We were able to do this by leveraging the full dataset of all the customers we’ve already done treatment plans for and we have assets for," Skinner says.
My experience: The scanning process worked like a charm. The app gave me easy instructions, and my scan was done in about two minutes.
- Unfortunately when my treatment plan arrived about 15 minutes later, it was a black box instead of an image of my future teeth.
- The company instructed me to close and restart the app, but that didn't do the trick.
The big picture: SmileDirectClub needs this to work. Though demand for its aligners soared in the early days of the pandemic, that wave has subsided.
- The company's stock has plunged below $1, and there are concerns about its long-term outlook.
What's next: The company is hoping that customers will be more likely to purchase the treatment if they don't have to wait more than a few minutes to see what their mouth would look like.
- "Long term goal we would love for you to be able to go online, scan yourself, buy and have your aligners in 48 hours," Skinner says. "That’s our dream."