While working on a new system for restraining children in the dentist’s chair, two University of Minnesota fellows came up with a way to calm kids without holding them down. It’s a new app called Yonder, which helps kids navigate the experience of visiting the dentist for the first time.
Adam Choe and Dr. Courtney Hill were working on restraint systems for the Earl E. Bakken Medical Devices Center when they started developing Yonder. The app introduces children to a cartoon hippo named Mimi, who walks them through a virtual dentist’s office from waving to the receptionist to learning about the tools dentists use.
Developed through the U of M’s Office for Technology and Commercialization, Choe and Hill raised $75,000 from various sources, including grants, to develop the technology. The app has been beta-tested on more than 100 kids—they monitored children’s reactions to everything from the cartoon’s name to her look and sound. Almost every child who has used Yonder before a first dental visit was calm during the appointment, Hill says.
Yonder is designed to pair with dental practices. Laganis Pediatric Dentistry in Maple Grove is an early adopter; agreements with other offices in the Twin Cities are in the works. —Ellen Schneider