Man In Serious Condition After Attack By Hacked Toothbrush

Having your doughnut maker, your wedding ring, and your toothbrush connected to the internet seems like a really great idea—until a hacker gets involved. When he bought it, Merle Smith, of Lansing, MI, thought the idea of a toothbrush that reminds you to charge it, coaches you on brushing techniques, and shows you targeted advertisements while you brush was a great idea. And then, Saturday morning, the toothbrush, Jim, went, literally, ballistic.

It happened like this: Before Merle went to bed on Friday night, his toothbrush (Jim) told him (Merle) that its battery was a bit low. Being a fundamentally kind-hearted and considerate sort of fellow, Merle set Jim into its charger before going to bed.

The next morning, Merle went into his bathroom, intending to give his teeth the extra polishing to which Jim, with its gentle reminders, had accustomed him. But as Merle was bending over the sink, Jim flew off the charger, handle and all, and embedded the steel prong that interfaces with the rotary brush three centimeters deep in Merle’s neck, grazing the carotid artery.

Crime scene investigators© report that the unidentified hacker modified Jim’s software, causing the charger to become an overcharger, which then overcharged Jim’s lithium battery. The battery’s explosion then caused the dramatic injury to Merle. It is not yet known whether the hacker or hackers were intending to injure Merle, or merely to damage Jim’s battery.

After the explosion, Merle was taken to the emergency room. He was later admitted to the hospital for surgery, and remains in serious condition. The ultimate fate of Jim has not yet been determined.


“Electric Toothbrush Head,” by William Warby from London, England CC-BY-2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.


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