Nuclear Taco Sensor Helmet Gameshow

Mau­ri­cio Mar­tinsTiago RorkeFilipe CruzTiago Farto and Fer­di­nand Meier

Nuclear Taco Sen­sor Hel­met Gameshow is the name of our pro­ject entry for the 48h hack pro­ject of Sapo Code­bits 2011. The aim of the com­pe­ti­tion was to deve­lop a pro­ject during 48 hours and pre­sent it in 90 seconds to a live audi­ence. Out of over 80 pro­po­sed pro­jects, 65 were pre­sen­ted live.
We won the 1st place of the public voting.


The 48h pro­ject con­sis­ted of buil­ding a hel­met device with humi­dity, tem­pe­ra­ture and fluid intake sen­sors, used to record and mea­sure the reac­tion of nuclear taco vic­tims of Code­bits 2011 Nuclear Taco Chal­lenge. The sen­sors and ser­vos are con­nec­ted by Arduino. 6 time­lapse videos were recor­ded docu­men­ting the user expe­ri­ence. The 1:30 pro­ject pre­sen­ta­tion was in the style of a Japa­nese gameshow using Open­Fra­meworks. The host dis­played using face subs­ti­tuion tech­no­logy in real­time.


Our moti­va­tion to deve­lop this pro­ject was the fol­lowing:

  • Do something fun with sen­sors and Arduino, that would show peo­ple how easy it is to use these things.
  • Show­case appli­ca­ti­ons of recent Face Trac­king and Face Subs­ti­tu­tion tech­no­logy.
  • Do a pre­sen­ta­tion for­mat that would not leave anyone indif­fe­rent to our pro­ject.
  • Bring atten­tion to the cre­a­tive com­mu­nity we have in the Audi­ên­cia Zero hac­ker spa­ces in Por­tu­gal (LCD in Porto / Gui­ma­rãesxDA in Coim­braaltLab in Lis­bon), in hopes of get­ting new mem­bers.
  • Take home some new hard­ware.

Video of Presentation


Nuclear Tacos Sen­sor Hel­met Gameshow @Codebits 2011 from altlab Lisbon’s Hac­kers­pace on Vimeo.

Before Codebits


At Sapo Code­bits 2010 the event orga­ni­zers held a nuclear taco chal­lenge during one of the nights of the event. Many brave atten­dees spent their last day of the event in severe dis­com­fort, cur­sing their ide­a­li­zed bra­very. No mem­bers of our team were brave enough to take on the nuclear taco chal­lenge but the memo­ries of everyone else suf­fe­ring lin­ge­red on with us. Then one day a light­bulb was tur­ned on inside Mau­ri­cio Mar­tins’s head when he saw a tv comer­cial for MEO fea­tu­ring Ricardo Araujo and an “all Ame­ri­can” beer hel­met.

The idea Mau­ri­cio had awa­ken inside his head was to use his Arduino and sen­sors exper­tise to pimp that beer hel­met into a nuclear taco sen­sor device of some sort. He began loo­king for the pie­ces requi­red.

By the way, if you want to learn how to use Ardui­nos for ran­dom pro­jects, there are some workshops at altLab on a regu­lar basis.


The hel­met itself was quite hard to find for sale in Por­tu­gal. After many sear­ches on the inter­net, we ended up buying it at for 10 euros.

The Arduino, LEDs, tem­pe­ra­ture and humi­dity sen­sor were easily acqui­red anywhere online. The flow mea­su­re­ment sen­sor was alot har­der to find, we ended up buying it second hand from ebay.

The web­cam for the head moun­ted view used was a Micro­soft Life­Cam VX-2000 bought by 20 euros.

Ove­rall the hard­ware cost was around 60 euros.


While Mau­ri­cio was sear­ching for the hel­met he recrui­ted two new mem­bers for our team. To assist with the hard­ware the Luso — New Zea­lan­dinsh Tiago Rorke, a semi-regu­lar altLab atten­der. And to han­dle the pre­sen­ta­tion for­mat, the Por­tu­guese demos­ce­ner emi­gra­ted in Hel­sinki, Fin­land Filipe Cruz, who had alre­ady col­la­bo­ra­ted with Mau­ri­cio on a Code­bits pro­ject in 2010 (the Blind Pong pro­ject).

A cou­ple of weeks before the event, Mau­ri­cio and Tiago Rorke got together to write a first abs­tract des­crip­tion of the pro­ject, do some sket­ches of the ide­a­li­zed hel­met and sent the text to Filipe. Few days later the three of them had a skype call to define the pre­sen­ta­tion for­mat and hear Filipe explain his con­cept idea of having a japa­nese gameshow style of pre­sen­ting the pro­ject to the public.


A cou­ple days before the event the three mem­bers of the team finally mana­ged to get together phy­si­cally to dis­cuss the pro­ject in per­son. Taking the opor­tu­nity to test some com­po­nents (the sen­sors, the Face­Trac­king library by Arturo Cas­troKyle McDo­nald and Jason Sara­gih) and more impor­tan­tly: to decide on a final name for the pro­ject. Nuclear Taco Sen­sor Hel­met Gameshow was the deci­sion.

During Codebits


Mau­ri­cio and Tiago Rorke spent the day wor­king on the hel­met, mos­tly buil­ding and tes­ting the sen­sors with the Arduino and deci­ding on how they would be pla­ced on the hel­met. Fer­di­nand Meier, a resi­dent mem­ber of altLab was recrui­ted to help prin­ting small pie­ces for the hel­met with the Maker­bot.

Filipe arri­ved late and star­ted wor­king ime­di­a­tly on the fra­mework for the pre­sen­ta­tion usingOpen­Fra­meworks, mos­tly tes­ting back­ground effects in a Japa­nese swish swash style and trying to close the pre­sen­ta­tion story­bo­ard. Fer­di­nand who was alre­ady a new mem­ber of the pro­ject at this point offe­red his Blen­der skills to cre­ate a model of the hel­met in 3D to be used in the pre­sen­ta­tion.

While the hard­ware guys were strug­gling with the sen­sors, Filipe was tes­ting ofx3D­Mo­del­Lo­a­der with Ferdinand’s 3D model exports of the hel­met. Seve­ral 2D ren­ders of Japa­nese vir­tual idol Hat­sune Miku model­ling our hel­met were also taken. The open source 3D model of Miku was taken from blen­der­na­tion. We had to rush this pro­cess since Ferd had to leave the Code­bits event that night to attend a con­fe­rence in Porto.

We did not attend the Ele­va­tor Pitch talk.

Tiago Farto was recrui­ted to help with the graphic effects of the pre­sen­ta­tion. The back­ground effects you see are all run­ning on pixelsha­ders real­time under open­fra­meworks. It was not tri­vial to get the sha­ders setU­ni­form to han­dle tex­tu­res pro­perly under open­Fra­meworks. We spent quite a few hours debug­ging and wild gues­sing their fra­mework since neither Filipe nor Tiago had expe­ri­ence run­ning sha­ders on open­Fra­meworks.

During the night we were one of the few teams still left hard at work at the party­place at 3 am. Mau­ri­cio and Tiago Rorke finishing the hel­met — tes­ting the liquid flow sen­sor, buil­ding the ser­vos, gluing the led struc­tu­res, pain­ting the hel­met.



We didn’t manage to sleep much on the first night of the event, some of us were fal­ling asleep on our com­pu­ters while still trying to get some work done. We star­ted having to turn down folks who were coming to ask us to print ran­dom things on the maker­bot. We sadly had to do this because we were so busy finishing the pro­ject for the com­pe­ti­tion. The hel­met nee­ded to be finished and ready for the code­bits nuclear taco chal­lenge which was hap­pe­ning at 19:00.

Mau­ri­cio and Tiago finished the hel­met, atta­ched the head camera and went to the Taco Chal­lenge area to record some foo­tage. Tiago wor­ked on the title screen fla­mes effect while Filipe re-struc­tu­red the fra­mework and tes­ted the video play­back right before having to head out to give his spe­a­ker talk “Crash course on Pho­ne­gap + Sen­cha Touch”.

Mau­ri­cio and both Tia­gos went to the taco lounge and mana­ged to record foo­tage from 6 volun­te­ers wea­ring our hel­met while eating their nuclear tacos. Big thanks to Pedro Umbe­lino, Daniel Frei­tas, Pedro Silva, Tomé Duarte, Joana Fer­reira and Artur Gou­lão for their assis­tance! We ended up only using 4 of the 6 videos.

Photo by Nuno Dan­tas

Meanwhile, back at the altLab table Filipe had ended his spe­a­ker talk and was back to work on the pre­sen­ta­tion code with some inter­rup­ti­ons to try and find out where the con­fes­si­o­nary room where we were sup­po­sed to pre­sent our pro­ject 1 hour ago was loca­ted. He fai­led. Noti­fied Mau­ri­cio and deci­ded to attend the spe­a­kers din­ner ins­tead.

Upon return, Filipe mana­ged to find where the con­fes­si­o­nary room was loca­ted while the rest of the pro­ject folks atten­ded the Scor­pi­ons con­cert. We finally mana­ged to get skype inter­vi­ewed by chew­bacca and darth vader. It went rather well and we were hope­ful that our pro­ject would get selec­ted for the group A of pro­jects pre­sen­ting live on stage.

The rest of the night was spent edi­ting video and fin­ding the per­fect Japa­nese face to use on the Face­Trac­king part of the pre­sen­ta­tion. Shido Naka­mura was the final selec­tion. Filipe had some night­ma­res about for­get­ting what to say live on stage and screwing up the Japa­nese accent. Tiago Rorke ended up wor­king another all nigh­ter doing some video edi­ting and drawing a 2d taco for the pre­sen­ta­tion.

By the way, the music we used for the final part is Para­gonX9 — Chaoz Air­flow, avai­la­ble under a Cre­a­tive Com­mons by-nc-sa license. And the short clip of Japa­nese crowd che­e­ring was snip­ped from a ran­dom you­tube video of a ran­dom Japa­nese gameshow which we can’t find any­more.


We all woke up later then plan­ned and fee­ling somewhat sick and tired of wor­king on the pro­ject. But one final effort was still nee­ded, the pre­sen­ta­tion had to be per­fect!

We did a few ite­ra­ti­ons of the final chal­lenge video, adding sound effects and tes­ting the length. The story­bo­ard still suf­fe­red a few small chan­ges to cre­ate big­ger cres­cendo impact. Last minute over­lay graphics of the sen­sors were desig­ned by Tiago Farto and quic­kly inser­ted.

Test on the stage pro­ved the face­trac­king could work without addi­ti­o­nal ligh­ting. Everything see­med more or less ready. Just one more ren­der of the final video with some more small impor­tant chan­ges requi­red.

Pre­sen­ta­tion had some glit­ches but went rather well. The crowd mana­ged to get into it and that was reflec­ted hea­vily on the voting. Great posi­tive reac­ti­ons both in per­son and through the twit­ter feed. We were very ple­a­sed and loo­king forward to the prize giving. Tiago Farto had to leave early and Ferd never mana­ged to come back to Code­bits since Thurs­day, so we were left only 3 of us, Mau­ri­cio Mar­tins, Filipe Cruz and Tiago Rorke to col­lect the pri­zes!

We won the 1st place public award and offe­red the sen­sor hel­met device to the Code­bits orga­ni­zers infor­ming them that all the peo­ple invol­ved with orga­ni­zing the Nuclear Taco Chal­lenge had to take pic­tu­res of them­selfs wea­ring the hel­met and upload them to the inter­net.


Domo Ari­gato to everyone for your feed­back and sup­port. We are very happy you liked our pro­ject. Ple­ase come and join altLab or another Audi­en­cia Zero hac­klab clo­ser to you. We need more peo­ple sha­ring kno­wledge and doing things with tech­no­logy.

Source Code

Source code github repo.


If you liked our pro­ject, ple­ase flattr it to sup­port our hac­ker space labs.