Taking the Nerf gun fun to the next level.

The intent of this project was to learn new platforms like Particle for developing for IOT devices. While playing with the Nerf guns lying around the studio, we came up with the idea of making a connected Nerf target that would automatically calculate users' score and publish it online with their name to a scoreboard.

IOT: Nerf

Role: Game design, software development, prototyping

Team: Apoorva Shenoy, Cheng- Hsiang Yang

Advisors: TJ McLeish, Zach Pino

Duration: 4 Months (Fall 2016)

Tools: Arduino, Particle Electron, Rhinoceros, Laser cutting


As the internet enabled devices swarm to our lifes, designers have increased responsibility around these new technologies. In order to get experience on designing and developing an internet enabled device, we were challenged to come up with a project idea and develop a working prototype in a strict timeline.


We dediced to make a connected Nerf gun target and created many protoypes to test the physical experience. After we were certain of the intended experience, we started developing the product using Arduino and a lot ot electronics components, then transferred to Particle Electron for easy internet access.


The result is a connected Nerf gun target that offers a fun and competitive gaming experience. Every student has a unique password that is used to activate the game. A nerf gun can hold 6 bullets, so in a turn a student can take 6 shots. After the shots are fired, the target calculates the score of the student and publishes it online for everyone to see.


Testing the Game Experience

First thing we did was to create a real quick working mock-up to test the gaming experience. After putting together some plastic sheets and a basic curcuit, we tested the experience and saw it was really fun to play with.

Developing the Hardware

We realized acrylic sheet is perfect for sticking nerf bullets. We also realized there is a need to give feedback on users current score therefore we ordered a huge 7 segment display to print user's score on it. Also we ordered some LED strips to show which are the user hit successfully.

Creating the Game Flow

After setting up the game rules, we have created a flowchart before starting coding the game. This helped us divide the game in blocks and made it easier for us to see the whole gameplay at once. We referred to this flow whenever we got confused during coding, and sometimes refined the flow as we evolve the project.

Nerf Flowchart
Developing the Software

We developed a tiny database inside of the electron to identify users. We entered ~20 students' name and assigned a unique four digit password for them to enter before playing with the target.

We used Particle Electron development board to make the product. It publishes the users score with their name on a Google Charts list.

You can download the source code of this project from my GitHub page.

Prototyping and Testing

We quickly did a proof of concept, merging an early version of both hardware and software.

Putting everything together

After making a complete skeleton working proof of concept, we laser cut the case and started installing electronic components.

Final Product

Connected Nerf target that can be used by every student at Institute of Design. It will recognize who is playing by the unique passcodes students have, and publish scores to a website so that everyone can see who is the highest scorer that week.

Check out this link to see real time scoreboard!




This was a project that enabled me to strenghten my interactive prototyping skills. I got really comfortable understanding basics of programming and internet enabled products. Having these skillsets, I feel more comfortable collaborating with hardware and software engineers.

Next Steps
  • Creating a complete case with a better instructions on it
  • Creating a better website that shows the real time scoreboard, and refreshes the scoreboard in given intervals
  • Using an RFID or Alexa controlled log in experience instead of entering pass codes.

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© 2019 Burak Aktas