Yes, You Can Run Doom on an Electronic Pregnancy Test — But There’s One Big Catch

Photo: Dolgih Olesya, Shutterstock
Photo: Dolgih Olesya, Shutterstock

The ability to run id Software’s classic first-person-shooter has practically become a rite of passage for any gadget worth its salt. And while I’d like to say we can welcome electronic pregnancy tests into the hall of unlikely Doom consoles (right alongside ATMs, Nokia phones, and pianos) I’m afraid that, in the end, that’s only half true.

Yes, one particularly determined programmer did get the game up and running, but only after practically gutting the entire device. Semantics aside, though, it’s still cool as shit.

Over the weekend, California-based programmer Foone Turing posted several videos of their progress reverse engineering an Equate electronic pregnancy test. After some heavy tinkering, they managed to play viral meme videos like Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” and “Bad Apple!!!” from the Touhou Project series on the device as well as a clip from 1993’s Doom and 2011’s The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. But on Monday, Foone upped the ante significantly.

“Yesterday I had a lot of retweets and reddit posts and such for playing Doom on a pregnancy test,” they tweeted. “But as I explained then, it wasn’t really PLAYING on a pregnancy test, it was just a video being played back, not an interactive game. Well, now it is. It’s Pregnancy Test Doom!”

You can check it out in the close-up below. The details are kind of hard to make out (it’s safe to say no devs ever intended for it to be played on a tiny 128×32 pixel monochrome display), but, sure enough, they’re playing Doom on an electronic pregnancy test using a wireless keyboard.

How is that possible, you ask? Well, it’s not, technically. As Foone explained, they had to completely replace the device’s existing CPU, which can’t be reprogrammed, and switch out its LCD screen for an OLED display capable of showing more than a few lines for “pregnant” or “not pregnant.”

In short, Foone isn’t playing Doom on an electronic pregnancy test per se, rather they’re playing Doom on the disemboweled husk of one — a fact they made clear early on:

“To clarify what I’m doing here: this is a replacement display AND a replacement micro-controller. I’m not using any of the original tester other than the shell,” Foone wrote Saturday.

Still, turning an electronic pregnancy test — which, as we learned last week, are surprisingly low-tech given their reputation for superior accuracy — into essentially a tiny computer is absolutely insane. John Romero, one of Doom’s original programmers, even said as much after a fan brought Foone’s efforts to his attention.

“Definitely incredible!” Romero tweeted Saturday.