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The “America’s Greatest Maker” That Just Won a Million Bucks Is…

Behold the champions of the first season of America’s Greatest Makers: Team Grush and their gamified smart toothbrush.

Their victory occurred in last night’s season finale, where Grush’s three person team beat out four other finalists to take home $1,000,000.

It’s a massive prize, and one that validates the significance of makers, as it will be used to help launch the winning product into production.

101-product-grush

“We were so excited when we got the check, then we walked outside and realized they have to do this, and this, and this, and this,” explained Grush co-founder Ethan Schur, telling us they’re quickly jumping from celebration mode right back into maker mode, and will be flying to China in about a week to ramp up orders. They will be using part of money to buy the parts they need and to solidify firmware. 

Grush, a computerized toothbrush designed to combat dental disease in kids, maps the users mouth with stated precision, and then sends a report back to the parents on underbrushed areas after use. Combined with a smartphone game, it can target the spots in a kid’s mouth that he or she usually misses, and guide them to that area. “Dental disease is the number one chronic disease affecting children today,” Grush co-founder Anubha Sacheti tells us.

Through the show, the winners also showed development of  a companion smart-flossing device, and tell us that they’ll be launching some new technologies soon to become the central hub of a connected-bathroom health initiative.

From here, the team is plotting a course for CES 2017, where they’ll need to have a finished product. $1 million is interesting, but we need to become a $1 billion valuation company selling one billion toothbrushes to children,” Schur says.

Team Grush at tech camp

The eight-episode series began with 24 teams, following them from Tech Shop to a glossy set where they’d pitch and update the panel of judges on their products, and face elimination rounds in a standard reality TV format. Produced by Mark Burnett and MGM television in conjunction with Intel, it puts the Maker community in the spotlight in a major way, combining maker-hero guest judges like Arduino co-founder Massimo Banzi with mainstream celebrities like Shaquille O’Neal. The show leverages the Intel Curie (and Arduino 101) as a major piece of technology for the teams to build around.

It appears to be a success for TBS; casting for season two is already underway.

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Mike Senese is the Executive Editor of Make: magazine. He is also a TV host, starring in various engineering and science shows for Discovery Channel, including Punkin Chunkin, How Stuff Works, and Catch It Keep It.

An avid maker, Mike spends his spare time tinkering with electronics, doing amateur woodworking, and attempting to cook the perfect pizza.

View more articles by Mike Senese