Red Bull Hack For Wings



Red Bull asked us to build an hacking experience for programmers, nerds and students of computer science for Codemotion, one of the biggest Italian tech conference.

They gave us some tools that we could use to build the game:

  • a vending machine with a giant screen,
  • an iPad,
  • and a lot of Red Bull cans to boost our productivity!

They asked us to build an engaging and nerdy experience. In the end, if the users was skilled enough, could obtain a free can of Red Bull.

How does it work?

The game is on two devices:

  1. iPad
    This is the tool used by the user to interact with the vending machine. It’s like an old-school terminal and you can use it to give commands to the vending machine. That’s where the hack happens!
  2. Interactive vending machine
    It’s a vending machine with a big screen that reacts to the commands given by the iPad. It’s the boss of the game and you need to defeat him with your hacking skills to win.


Game Design

The first half of our work has been game design only. Since our game is text-based we studied the interactive fictions to understand what were the ingredients to make it engaging and fun.

The biggest challenge has been the duration of the game: Red Bull asked us to keep it under five minutes in order to let more people play.

After the game design phase we had to design the graphic. We decided give it an 80s vibe, like the cabinet games that you could play in an arcade.

The whole project has been design with a nerdy attitude. The vending machine has a strong sense of humor; we used memes, quotation from cult movies and geek culture to make it more fun!

These aren’t the commands you’re looking for.

Even the logo, which has been produced by the Red Bull team, looks like the glider, which is the hacker’s symbol.

Before the deploy at Codemotion we user tested our game at Speck&Tech, the monthly tech meetup in Trento, in order to understand the timing, the difficulty and the engagement of the game. The results have been satisfying but we discovered some flaws in our game design.

After the user testing we tweaked the game and we run it at the Rome’s Codemotion with success. A lot of people played and enjoyed the hacking experience!

Technologies involved

This project required all the tools that we have in our digital toolbox.

The vending machine runs an Electron app, with React.js on the frontend. The link with the mechanical parts of the vending machine is done with the help of an Arduino, as the connection from the iPad to the computer that runs the app inside the vending machine too. The iPad app is native, developed in Swift.


  • Interactive exhibit
  • Internet of Things
  • React.js
  • UI/UX Design
  • User Testing


  • Electron
  • Swift
  • Arduino
  • React.js