Pregnancy tests used to be quite simple sticks that you looked at, but with the advent of the Digital pregnancy test version, they have turned into tiny computers as powerful as the real IBM PC. In the digital age of attack experiments, Twitter users have recently pulled out different examples from Walmart and ClearBlue to find out what is inside.
Each test, priced less than 5, includes a small processor, RAM, a button cell battery, and a small LCD screen to display the result. The processor is an 8-bit Holtic Micro Controller with 64 bytes of RAM, capable of running at either 4 MHz or 8 MHz, depending on the battery configuration. This may sound very basic, but the chip is surprisingly complex.
“You think it’s minimal because it only has 64 bytes of RAM, but it’s using the pipeline architecture to run on one instruction on a bicycle, which gives it a 4 MHz CPU. It’s an excellent performance.”
So, flipping it over, we've got a battery on the left, an IC, and a long paper strip. pic.twitter.com/ENHNe5cKny
— foone🏳️⚧️ (@Foone) September 4, 2020
Foone speculated that the device was “probably faster in number and faster I / O than the CPU used in IBM PC.” IBM’s original PC was based on Intel’s 8088 microprocessor, an 8-bit chip that ran at 5 MHz. The difference is that this is a pregnancy test that you urinate on and then throw away.
You might think that adding an LCD screen and processor to digitize this pregnancy test improves accuracy or improves how the test works, but it is not. This digital pregnancy test still includes a strip of paper to measure the chemical reaction when you urinate.
The strip of paper inside acts like a watt, so when it gets wet, it activates the battery and powers the device. The three tools then use three LEDs and two photosensors to read the lines on a strip of paper, which usually provide the results of a pregnancy test. The processor, RAM, battery, and LCD make it challenging to display “pregnant” or “not pregnant” on display instead of the existing text lines to improve the paper strip reading and test clarity.
Unfortunately, the chip inside is not workable, so there is no way that people can be punished for running these digital pregnancy tests. I would recommend reading Foone’s full Twitter thread because it is an exciting tear. While this digital pregnancy test sounds like an incredible waste of plastic and electronics, we should be thankful that humanity has gone beyond injecting frogs with urine to confirm pregnancy.