Make your own $1 million vomit-inducing flashlight for $250


39 Responses to “Make your own $1 million vomit-inducing flashlight for $250”

  1. muteboy says:

    But does it fill you with inertia?
    /Peter Cook

  2. Anonymous says:

    This almost reminds me of the 80′s movie “Looker”.

  3. SamSam says:

    Like Keneke says, it’s a bit disingenuous to suggest that Lady Ada replicated a $1 million project for “only” $250.

    I don’t think it was ever suggested that the physical flashlight itself, or even the circuitry, cost $1 million to make. You can build a lightbulb for pennies, but it cost more than that to invent it.

    @7 Siamang:

    So it doesn’t work.

    Wow. Lame. They patented a bunch of flashing LED’s. For a million dollar government contract.

    No, Lady Ada’s version didn’t work.

  4. Anonymous says:

    maybe the million dollars of research produced a version that actually works… the open version seemed like it was a failure according to what they themselves said.

  5. Teller says:

    Apparently, no one’s told HS about my chili.

  6. hershmire says:

    Ok, does anyone else feel the uncanny resemblance to a bad science-fiction novel? “Sea-sickness machine?” If our leaders are interested in tapping into these kinds of reactions, we’re screwed. There is no turning back from here.

  7. wangleberry says:

    oooOOOT! oooOOOT! \O/ street disco

  8. ladyada says:

    @jones, you’re taking this FAR too seriously

  9. ladyada says:

    Man, there is nothing worse than having to explain a joke…

    The incapacitator does not cause vomiting (except it rare situations) What happens is that the flashing occurs at a special frequency and at a color that our eyes are particularly responsive to (these effects were discovered over 100 yrs ago)

    The bedazzler works just fine, probably as well as the ‘official’ product, because all it needs to do is be really fucking bright.

    And don’t worry kids, watching a video about how to build something will not get you in trouble with the big bad patent police. Leave the scary stuff to us, we’re professionals!

  10. Anonymous says:

    did anyone get that line “my eyes, the goggles do nothing” or just me?

    i know no one cares, its from the Simpsons episode when mill house is cast as fallout boy in the radioactive man movie, and its the acid scene and millhouse doesn’t show up. i always loved that line

  11. hershmire says:

    Does anyone have a mirror for the video? Mine is taking ages to load.

  12. Anonymous says:

    “…we have an Arduino clone here which I use to basically control the pulse width modulation, randomization, and mood selection” LOL

  13. Anonymous says:

    I agree that the end of the movie implies that the device doesn’t do anything.

  14. Anonymous says:

    That reminds me–have they perfected the “brown note” nonlethal device yet? ‘Cause that’s when I stop going to protests.

  15. treq says:

    Just seeing that smug grin on the DHS representative makes me nauseous, no need for a flashing light.

    “Non-lethal weapons are really pretty critically important.”

    Really? Seems like cops did just fine apprehending suspects by hand before the taser was invented. But hey, if you can put someone else in excruciating pain for a while and save yourself some effort in the process, why not?

  16. jimh says:

    I don’t understand much of what she said, but I kind of love her. Maybe it was the flashing lights.

  17. Francesco Fondi says:

    Sounds like fun…

  18. Anonymous says:

    It always surprises me how wowed people get by a price tag like a million dollars. As a government contract goes, that’s pretty small. It basically pays the salaries of a very small group of contractors (2-4 people) for a year, say. In that time they prototype things, go over the existing research, do some human subjects research to test out their prototypes, document, publish. Small team, one year, all quite reasonable. That you come out with something that can be made cheaply after all the research is great, but it doesn’t mean the original million dollar investment was unnecessary.

    This, of course, is the whole point of a patent – the guys who did the research should get to benefit from it for a while. Which is blatantly being infringed here … right? … or did I miss something?

  19. theWalrus says:


    Caught that too. Made me laugh.

  20. Bill_Owens says:

    A couple of years ago I came across a little LED blinky toy that was supposed to be a sort of persistence of vision wand, waving it back and forth produced rainbow effects. I didn’t know this, and made the mistake of looking directly at the light while holding the button down. A few seconds was enough to leave me nauseous, and the effect lasted for a couple of hours. Perhaps I should have bought up their stock and sold them to the government?

  21. bcsizemo says:

    I’m not sure how effective it would be on me. I have nystagmus and pulsed light does weird things. If anything it’ll play some with my equilibrium if I’m moving, but it more makes my eyes move in tune to the pulse. (Which is fairly distracting when tube florescent lights are starting to die.)

  22. Anonymous says:

    Okay, I got sick just watching the video — maybe I’m just suggestible. I am the kind of person who can’t play FPS games or see 3-D movies, either, so your mileage may vary.

  23. RevEng says:

    Wouldn’t this be gauranteed to cause a seizure in epileptics? Epilepsy isn’t an uncommon disease and seizures can be lethal. I’m sure the video doesn’t do it justice, but it doesn’t seem much worse than a strobe light or a cop pointing a bright flash light in your eyes (which, with the blind spots and over-stimulation, is itself quite disorienting).

    On a side note, isn’t the whole idea of a patent that you share the information publicly but get temporary exclusive access to use that information? This leaves ladyada, and anybody who builds this project, infringing upon this patent. This is where the difference comes between copyright and patent. She made her own design on the same principle without copying the exact circuitry, so it’s not a copyright violation, but since the principle idea was patented, it is a patent violation.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Hmm, interesting and an excellent start. But most likely there’s some “special sauce” involved …

  25. Android8675 says:

    A million bucks for a disco light… /sigh, I need a government job.

  26. jonesp12 says:

    @ ladyada

    the end of the film suggests that the device does not work. i don’t think this is what you mean, but it’s ambiguous. maybe an edit could be helpful for future viewers.

  27. Siamang says:

    So it doesn’t work.

    Wow. Lame. They patented a bunch of flashing LED’s. For a million dollar government contract.

    Poor Lady Ada and PT! What a letdown.

  28. Anonymous says:

    “Turns out it doesn’t work that well, but it great for raves”? Meh.

  29. knodi says:

    Reveng @5 – it’s cute how you wax legal on the difference between patent and copyright law, but completely miss the point-

    You can’t violate a patent unless you’re selling something. All Lady Ada is doing is giving you instructions on how to make your own, which, as you pointed out, is what the patent application does anyway.

    Thanks for the warning, though!

  30. Anonymous says:

    Unfortunately, Knodi, making, using OR selling can violate a patent.

  31. bjacques says:

    If the original device does work, then Michael Moorcock though of it first. It’s the Hallucinomat in “The Final Programme.” Anyone up for reverse-engineering Jerry Cornelius’s needle gun?

  32. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been to so many Pink Floyd concerts that none of this flashing lights and loud sound stuff has no effect on me!!!

    So if the person who is being annoyed by the loud sound and flashing lights wears mirror glasses and ear muffs these gadgets are useless.

    Hand me my spud tossing trebuchet.

  33. Anonymous says:

    I wonder how much trouble otherwise-peaceful protesters would be in for building, having, and using their own homebrew non lethal weapons. So protesters can get some industrial headphones to diminish the effect of the sound cannon, but what about taking it out of commission with a home built focused EMP? Or shining vomit-flashlights at the cops? I mean, they’ll all be arrested instantly, of course, but it seems like making a bunch of cops vomit everywhere would be better than throwing moltov cocktails or rocks or whatever.

  34. jamesmusik says:


    U.S. Patent law has no requirement that the item be sold. “Except as otherwise provided in this title, whoever without authority makes, uses, offers to sell, or sells any patented invention, within the United States, or imports into the United States any patented invention during the term of the patent therefor, infringes the patent.” All you have to do is make something covered by a patent to violate it.

  35. Keneke says:

    This demonstrates the necessity of R&D funding. Regardless of how cheaply it can eventually be made, somewhere in that 7-figure price tag is the research needed to, say, know the brightness and frequency needed to induce maximum nausea. In some way, someone could use this information to help another field of research…optometry, neurology, etc.

    This is why I support NASA. Do the impossible, and wonderful things come from it.

  36. Anonymous says:

    If they have a “Copyright” they could stop people from making them, even if they didn’t try to sell them. Patents are merely commercial “I call Dibs!” issues.

    However, while it’s “Pokemon” bait, “We now Return you to Battling Seizure Robots!” I wouldn’t bet my life that I could subdue someone with it. Through the vid (doubtless filtered by Mpeg-4) did have an effect I’m still munching away.

    But I think this “Defense Contractor” just grabbed the money and ran like a bunny at a fursuit lifestyler convention… And then some petty officials will go “You WILL!” and make police use them, prompting both amusing and deadly incidents along with “Torture” lawsuits when they flash an epileptic…

  37. Anonymous says:

    i once did volunteer work for a festival, and I was washing the dishes. They had a floresent light bulb which was nearing the end of its life, and kept on flickering. It made me want to vomit, in the end I had to turn it off….

  38. Anonymous says:

    Keneke, indeed it is great that DHS SBIR grants discovered the Brücke-Bartley phenomenon by funding Ernst Wilhelm Ritter von Brücke back in the 1800′s ;)

  39. Anonymous says:

    The replica was a failure, as can be seen at the end of the video. Anticlimactic.

Leave a Reply