Jeri Ellsworth is a self-taught electrical engineer and chip designer. More recently she has been working at Valve but with no indication on what type of projects. A tweet from Jeri (retweeted by Greg Coomer) recently said “I’m working at Valve on nextgen gaming hardware.”
It is a possibility Valve could have access to next-generation console hardware (or have built equivalent spec machines) however; it seems Jeri is more focused on producing innovative electronics for gaming input or feedback. Another tweet says: “It's sweet having a PCB mill, laser cutter and 3D printers a few feet away from my desk. Prototypes easier than ever to make these days.”
Ideas such as the game controller with swappable control components (image here) is an example of the hardware peripherals that Valve have explored. A prototype for a miniature handheld crowbar for Half-life 2 has even materialised, although probably just for fun!
You may be aware of Valve’s ‘science fairs’ where periodically staff are encouraged to innovate and work on projects which interest them. The F-STOP unknown mechanic was conceived this way and Chet Faliszek has said Valve have another event scheduled soon. In this video, Jeri shows a similar science fair-like event with several notable Valve employees who are mostly software centric, trying their hand with the Arduino microcontroller. Don’t hold your breath in expectation of any of these projects becoming anything more than experimental (except maybe Greg Coomer’s concept?) but it is exciting nonetheless to see Valve taking a more serious look at hardware than ever before.
Thanks to Astrophysx_12 for the heads up on this!