We may one day reach a point where it might be easier to ask: ‘What can’t run Doom?’ That’s because YouTuber and device hacker Aaron Christophel has found a way to get the classic shoot ’em’ up running on an electric toothbrush. 

Thanks to the rise of smart tech internet connectivity, sensors, and screens get bunged into all manner of home devices, including toasters, garbage bins, and even electric toothbrushes. And it’s using the latter – in this case a Evowera Planck Mini smart toothbrush – that Christophel was able to run Doom. 

The Evowera Planck Mini is a somewhat advanced smart electric toothbrush, with its color display, Wi-Fi connectivity, and brushing coaching app; there’s enough tech here for folks still using a manual toothbrush to feel like a primitive human who’s just been handed a fork. But it also means the toothbrush is ripe for hacking. 

Christophel was able to use the over-the-air (OTA) update functionality of the smart toothbrush to install custom firmware on the Planck Mini’s ESP32-C3 microcontroller via his own ESP32 development board. From there, the YouTuber loaded Doom onto the toothbrush; an easy enough process as others have already got Doom running on ESP32 microcontrollers. 

Despite having access to the toothbrush’s hardware and sensor data, to control Doom, Christophel needed to connect a Bluetooth mouse, with the movements of the player’s character – Doom Guy – being mapped to the forward and backward movements of the mouse.

As you can see in the video above, it seems to work reasonably well – it wouldn’t be my first gaming platform of choice, as I’d prefer to play Doom on a PC or Nintendo Switch, But it’s cool nonetheless.

However, this does raise a question about security.

Smart stuff, sloppy security? 

Being able to hack yet another smart device, seemingly without too much effort, does raise concerns about how secure smart devices are from opportunistic hackers. Ever since companies and so-called IT thought leaders touted the potential of the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) for all manner of smart networks and home automation, people have flagged security issues, and hack attacks have taken place. 

But the ESP32-C3 microcontroller does come with in-built security, like secure boot functionality, which should prevent malicious code from being run on it. However, side-channel attacks have been able to bypass this and extract data from the chip’s flash memory. Such attacks do take a lot of effort and require nearby access to the targeted microcontroller. 

So while no smart device is ever perfectly safe, you can be reasonably confident that no one can easily hack your smart toothbrush and turn it wild while you’re giving your gnashers a polish. Yet, if you’ve got a home full of smart gadgets there’s no harm in checking that they are connected to secure apps and networks and functioning as they should. 

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