Twitter is not only a convenient way to consume daily news and converse with friends online, it has become an excellent platform for gaining insight on what’s important at any particular moment in time. With this in mind, Maker Chadwick John Friedman has decided to harness the social network’s data into web-connected physical representations with the help of Arduino and Temboo.
PrecogNation uses three 3D-printed geometric masks as real-time sci-fi future forecasters, which illuminate and change colors to reflect sustainability trends throughout the world.
The three geometric 3D-printed masks are wirelessly connected to the Internet via an Arduino Yún. The masks were printed using a Zortrax 3D printer and white Z-ABS filament. The masks are a remixed version of Stephen Kongsle’s “Low Poly Mask.” Each mask took approximately 16 hours to print. The masks are constantly scraping data from Twitter in real-time via Temboo Choreos. Temboo assigns special API keys for Arduino devices that allow the user grab real-time data from Twitter that would otherwise be difficult to gather. That live data is then fed to the Arduino Yún, which illuminates a specific 10mm super bright LED, connected to the masks.
One of the largest challenges in representing this overload of data physically was finding the correct terms and/or keywords that activate a specific color/thought in the Precog’s faces. The three colors present in the faces are scraping the Twitterverse for terms relating to sustainability, environmental threats, and political involvement. PrecogNation has its very own Twitter account, which allows the masks to scan through data specifically submitted by sustainability related users, corporations, and initiatives.
As seen in the video below, progress in sustainable development (green) is represented by keywords such as renewable energy, clean coal, water treatment and wind turbines. Threats to sustainability (red) include deforestation, global warming, record heat, extinction, pollution, pandemics and so on. Meanwhile, blue denotes an overload of data and contradicting results.
The overload of data in the color blue works like this… say the word ‘polar’ is found, but then the words ‘melting-polar’ are found, followed by the words ‘polar bear.’ This is an unreadable thread of information – it’s not really giving us threats or progress related to sustainability so the face reflects the color blue to signify that confusion. Coming up with the correct terms to represent the overload of information was especially tricky, and writing the code to reflect that confusion was equally as challenging. I eventually found a series of keywords and demands that elicited the response I was hoping for in this category.
It is important to highlight the fact that although the colors red and blue may be perceived as negative (and usually appear more than the color green), they also mean that there are discussions about those negative sustainability issues happening every time those colors are activated. This is, in fact, a positive outcome, as one of the main goals of this project is to highlight the importance maintaining a dialogue – even if that dialogue surrounds daunting threats to sustainability. It is important that the masks provoke a highlighted continuation of focus surrounding social and political sustainability issues.