Pearlii, an Australian DentalTech startup using AI image processing to scan photos of your teeth and check for dental problems, has launched following the closure of a $200k pre-seed funding round in January.
Founded in Melbourne, Pearlii provides people with access to free, fast, and safe at home dental check-ups, no matter their income or personal situation. The startup closed its funding round with some of Australia’s most prominent angel investors, such as Justin Liberman and Roger Allen.
Pearlii users simply upload five photos of their teeth and answer a short oral health questionnaire, which is then analysed by its machine learning algorithm in just seconds. Once processed, the app then provides oral health advice tailored to each individual’s results, lowering barriers to dental advice such as cost or travel.
What is the story behind Pearlii?
Founder, Dr Kyle Turner, a Public Health Lecturer at the University of Melbourne, had the idea for the app after discovering results of a study in which Aboriginal health care workers in remote areas were using smartphones to help diagnose oral diseases by a dentist in Perth.
Kyle said, “This study showed that diagnosis of oral diseases through photography were on par with in-person diagnoses for detecting dental caries (tooth decay), and I immediately recognised the potential Pearlii had to democratise dental check-ups and access to oral health education.”
“Almost all dental problems are preventable through regular check-ups and good oral hygiene. Our dream for Pearlii is to bring free dental screening and education to the world, combatting two of the biggest barriers – cost and time.”
With health data not readily available due to privacy restrictions, through crowdsourcing, Kyle and his team built their own database of images, collecting thousands of images to input into Pearlii’s algorithm. Before being fed into the algorithm, these images are carefully scrutinised by two dentists on the Pearlii team and labelled by bespoke software they built in-house.
“AI holds so much potential to revolutionise healthcare. However, one of the major challenges is the huge data sets needed for to recognise meaningful patterns and make intelligent decisions. With Pearlii, we hope to fill a gap and reduce the current barriers for Australians currently not in touch with dental care providers, for whatever reason.”
Undeterred by the current climate, Pearlii will be opening its seed round funding at the beginning of May.
“We want to be known as the ‘mouth guys.’ Right now, we’re focused on teeth and gums – and we’re getting quite good at detecting issues such as tooth decay – but there’s so much more we want to examine, from your tongues to the upper palate and lips. We also want to continue growing our education bank for customers, so we can provide them with access to a wealth of free oral health information.”
To keep the app free, Pearlii plans to generate future revenue through referral pathways with dentists and a commission scheme on procedures such as teeth whitening and braces. Pearlii is also currently in the process of setting up clinical trials in conjunction with the University of Melbourne Dental School to research the efficacy of their machine learning results against in-person, traditional dental check-ups.
Pearlii is now free to download on Android with the Apple version coming soon. Check out Pearlii’s launch on Product Hunt.