A Bright Idea

[Jeri Ellsworth] had a bright idea – a brain-activated light bulb that floats above your head. While out and about, she saw some guy with a video game icon attached to metal rod sticking out of his backpack. The rod made the icon appear to be floating above his head (think The Sims), which was the inspiration for this LED powered light bulb. The bulb is connected to a metal rod, as well as a metal hoop which is springy enough to keep a pair of electrodes snugly attached to your head.

Those electrodes, along with a third probe used for noise reference, are hooked up to a AD620 instrumentation amplifier. With the help of op amps, it modulates the red or green LEDs that are attached to the back side of the light bulb. The end result is an amusing way to show brain activity while being grilled on a Q/A panel, or while just wandering around taking in all the amazing sights presented at Maker Faire.

Join us after the break for a video demonstration.


  1. Elettronica says:

    Hi Jeri the electronics italian community love you!


    Analog Devices AD620 instrumentation amplifier is NOT for fools :)

    Great Idea!

  2. alan says:

    Got to love Jeri. She’s such a geek.

  3. Dmitry says:

    Indeed a very bright idea. I’ve always thought it’s hard to monitor the brain’s activity with just few electrodes. (Usually there is an electrodes net that we put on the full head and using some jelly for even better contact. It’s quite cumbersome) Very Nicely Done J.!

  4. Oren Beck says:

    Dude- disrespecting someone like Jeri is Doubleplus Uncool.

  5. drn says:


  6. darkore says:

    I generally like Jeri’s ideas a lot, but this is just stupid :(

  7. Philippe says:

    @anon The old boys club again? Get some help.

  8. Kevin says:

    @Oren Beck
    Also shes hot

  9. monti says:


  10. TheCreator says:

    I like how Jeri gets her own category tag.

  11. shazzner says:

    Is there a link to her talk?

  12. Dino says:

    I think this one is pretty cool. The circuit design is interesting…

  13. CRJEEA says:

    @TheCreator – and so she should (:
    @Oren Beck – I second that (: but only because you beat me to saying it first :D

    I sware if I thought I had a chance with Jeri I would be on the first flight out of the uk. Incredible woman. She has achieved so much I must admit I am a little envious (:
    All the same good luck to her. Hope the ideas keep flowing for many years to come.

  14. anon says:

    @CRJEEA – so what you are saying is you would smash her back doors in?

  15. rallen71366 says:

    Circuit Design is an art, and Jeri is an artist. Like with all good art, some will love it, some won’t. I personally find her intriguing and inspiring. (And hot!)

  16. steve says:

    random flashes from the microcontroller would be as informative

  17. shazzner says:

    Ah yes, the weekly ‘Jeri does something awesome and technically beyond most readers and all anyone posts about is that she’s hot’. I’m glad gender equality has come so far!

  18. Kevin says:


    “Technically beyond most readers” – yes

    “Awesome” – maybe, I doubt most readers would WANT to do most of her projects even if they could.

    “all anyone posts about is that she’s hot” – We are just saying what we liked about the video… Have you ever watched a full infomercial? It’s not because you want to buy the product, its usually because they are selling bras or spanx or have a cute foreign girl as the host.

  19. shazzner says:

    Thanks for your insightful commentary Kevin, glad to know Jeri was trying to use her looks to sell something.

  20. CRJEEA says:

    @anon – there’s always one who has to lower the tone of the conversation…
    I would just settle for knowing her.

  21. Kevin says:


    Well there all those ads and name dropping of element 14, which sells items….

  22. Ryan Mercer says:

    I love her, she’s awesome.

  23. blue carbuncle says:

    Good for her. Seems like a dumb idea though. Clean up the slobber boys, she isn’t a piece of meat. I generally enjoy her work, but this is a total pass for me.

  24. t&p says:

    On the sexual thing.
    1. I think she is with someone
    2. She alright.
    3. I see her more of like one of my professors.
    4. I still question if and why she doesn’t have a degree

  25. MrDC says:

    All you phony chivalrous hypocrites who go out of your way to defend Jeri’s “honor” make me sick. So what if we drool over her being a hot chick?

    Get over it!

    We’re healthy hetero dudes that are reacting normally. As long as none of us jump on top of her against her will, there’s nothing wrong with admiring her for beauty AND brains.

    You want another hot science babe ?
    Anyone know who Lisa Randall is ? look her up.

  26. jimmy says:

    I used to feel the need to defend Jeri from idiotic comments.

    Now I know that she has been dealing with this nonsense from the beginning of her career. Didn’t faze her then; it doesn’t now (in person, she’d chew these morons up and spit them out…)

  27. Alan says:

    Some of you concern trolls forget one thing: When someone calls her hot, its in large part because of the brain in her head.

    Shes really pretty, but we can see that anywhere. What we really find attractive is that intelligence. It shows when she speaks and she demonstrates it in her body language.

    Shes incredibly smart, seems to be a nice person AND shes pretty. That is hot.

  28. G says:


  29. Miroslav says:

    It would be nice to see a simplest possible circuit using an instrumentation amplifier, able to actually amplify and display brain waves. 3 electrodes max like here. As someone pointed out this is mostly picking up some muscle activity.

  30. Kevin says:


    1. I think she is with someone
    – So are most maxim models, so what?
    2. She alright.
    – Taste is a personal thing
    3. I see her more of like one of my professors.
    – Doesn’t that make her hotter?
    4. I still question if and why she doesn’t have a degree
    – Why? She does not need a piece of paper to validate whats in her head.

  31. Life2Death says:

    What is the sound of a 1000 geeks in their mothers basements posting to HaD?

  32. Kevin says:

    Is it fap fap fap fap?

  33. Zeno Arrow says:

    There’s nothing wrong with seeing someone is attractive, but there is no need to be so bawdy. Why can’t you treat female hackers as your equal (or in Jeri’s case, superior)?

    In other words, you were presented with a hack, talk about the hack. Your judgements on personal appearance, whilst you are entitled to them, are off topic. Show the respect you’d like someone else to show you.

  34. @kevin Yeah, a piece of paper has nothing to do with:- Experience, ingenuity or ability to problem solve.

    Jeri chose very early on not to go down the route of formal qualifications, preferring to do research for research’s sake. I feel that many people have a lot to learn from her methods of problem solving.

    My $0.02 worth.

  35. TheRatatat says:

    I think I would have drilled out the end of the lightbulb and put the lights inside. You can actually do it without breaking the bulb.

  36. shazzner says:

    Seriously, literally every week it plays out the same. Something Jeri does gets posted, some creepy retards talk how they want to sexually assault her, others call them out, more pieces of shit defend objectifying her, other mental-children chime in with more garbage.

    Why oh why, can’t there be a moderator to ban the idiots in the first place?

  37. anon says:

    I would fap out to her brains :)

  38. h4xorX says:

    What started off as a tech discussion is now a geek obsession. I bet Jeri is lauhging her ass off reading these comments!

  39. Jake says:

    Stop feeding the goddamn trolls! Awesome project!

  40. Kevin says:

    “other mental-children chime in with more garbage.”

    Seeing that you are not talking about the project, welcome to the garbage spewing child club

  41. reza says:

    I checked out the circuit, doesn’t really do much other than change color based on the electrical pickup voltage – would be better as a heart rate monitor. you really need to add a FFT to the output rather than a comparator and change color based on dominant frequency — much more useful. I also find the inverted CM gnd unnecessary and only there (in datasheets) to help sell more ICs. A gnd hookup would work just as well. -reza

  42. Jordan says:

    the first ten seconds look like my CPU light. :)

  43. I mentioned Jeri’s invention to someone at the shop, they said that it was most impressive and wanted to know where to buy one.

    Wonder why they aren’t available as a kit yet, it would seem to be an ideal way for electronics hobbyists to get into EEG experimentation with the
    appropriate safeguards such as TOSlink or wireless based optical interface etc.

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