Would you rather play Doom on smart glasses or a lawn mower?

When I was planning my first trip to MWC Barcelona this year, I waded through the massive number of emails about AI, connected devices, and just about every other buzzword lighting up the industry today. But one email immediately stood out among the rest: Doom on a lawnmower.

Husqvarna engineers contrived a brilliant PR move to garner more attention to the company’s line of robot lawnmowers by creating something effectively useless. There’s little hope you’ll ever actually play Doom on your Husqvarna Automower NERA, but why wouldn’t you at least want to try?

Folks in several EMEA countries who own a Husqvarna Automower NERA can sign up for the Doom beta and get those mowers revving in April when the official update drops.

It was one of the coolest things we saw at MWC 2024 but it also begs an interesting question. As we continue to gamify chores with games like Pokemon Smile to encourage us to keep doing mundane — but important — things, how far should the gamification of technology go? Do we need full-fledged games on a pair of smart glasses, or is a clever Pokemon Go-style title enough to get our legs moving after hours of sitting in a chair?

Follow the breadcrumb trail

Playing Pokemon Go on the cover display of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

Husqvarna’s marketing trick may just have worked if the company’s YouTube channel is any indication. Most of the videos on its channel have a few hundred views at best and generally focus on the technology behind how the mower works and how it can improve your life.

However, the Husqvarna x Doom project video has over 46,000 views, which is 2,000 more than the number of subscribers on the channel. If the goal was to make people aware of a product rather than sell a certain feature, it’s clear that this strategy might work.

I recently spoke with Bobak Tavangar, CEO of Brilliant Labs and creator behind Brilliant Labs Frame, a new pair of smart glasses shipping in April that promises to meld AI with svelte, wearable frames. The company’s vision is grandiose but, ultimately, still somewhat limited by what current technology can deliver.

Tavangar described the company’s ultimate vision of how the Brilliant Labs AI bot, Noa, can help you stay on your diet plan by identifying foods the camera sees and gently steering you toward your goals. This is just one of many examples used by Tavangar in our discussion for the company to make glasses powered by a personalized, proactive personal AI assistant.

Hands-on with Oppo Air Glass 3 at MWC 2024 in Barcelona

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

But that sort of vision would likely only impress some people before they moved on with their normal lives, never investing in the future potential of this product. That is if it weren’t for one thing: the ability to play games like Doom without craning their necks down at a phone.

Admittedly, Doom (1993) only has so much appeal to non-gamers, and even then, its appeal among regular gamers is only so great. The classic title paved the way for games people love to play in 2024 but the game itself is a small seed to help people understand the potential of the gadgets we take for granted in our lives.

If a pair of glasses — like the Oppo Air Glass 3 that I wore at MWC 2024 (pictured above) or the upcoming Brilliant Labs Frame — can play games right in front of our eyes by just tapping into the power of the phone in our pocket, imagine how much more these types of products could do when fully realized?

Ray-Ban Meta Smart Glasses Wayfarer style with yellow tinted lenses

(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

Brilliant Labs’ declared implementation of AI on a pair of smart glasses isn’t “new,” per se, but it certainly sounds better than what I’ve used in the past. After all, Meta Ray-Ban smart glasses can already do many of these things in some capacity. So what’s stopping another company — especially a start-up with a focused vision and a small, malleable team — from making something even better than what we hoped for?

I won’t hold my breath for a personalized AI to guide me along my dietary goals in 2024, but I’m certainly hoping I get to play Doom on these frames when they plan to land in a month.

For me, it’s the gamification of technology that ultimately gets me interested. If I’m wearing a pair of smart glasses throughout the day, I want them to encourage me to do mundane things in a fun new way, even if that just means spinning Poke Stops while I’m walking around the neighborhood.


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