Powered By Tweets

Bringing innovative Twitter-powered inventions to life at the London Design Festival.

Pixie Labs partnered with Twitter to bring six interactive installations to life for a exhibition at Somerset House, London.

Our role:

Experience design, CAD design, visual design, electronics fabrication and assembly, embedded software development, back-end and front-end software development, assembly in the gallery.

Technologies:

Microprocessor programming in C | Ruby | NodeJS | PostgreSQL | React | real-time APIs | Twitter API | circuit design and development | analogue & digital electronics | Heroku | websockets | computer-aided design | Puppet enterprise | Linux server & desktop provisioning.

The challenges:

Twitter UK had a bold, fun idea: let’s launch a competition, called #‬‬‬‬‬‬PoweredByTweets, which invited members of the public to come up with an innovative Twitter-powered creations. The top six were to be turned into real-life working prototypes.

They needed a technology partner with the right skills to creatively translate all six ideas into working hardware and software installations on public display at the London Design Festival at Somerset House.

One of the inventions was #‬‬‬‬‬‬wordbyword, which allowed visitors to tweet the story of Alice In Wonderland one word at a time – with each word then typed on to a printed page by a 30-year-old Smith Corona typewriter.

The following year, to mark the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death in 1616, Pixie Labs revived this concept with an installation at London’s Globe Theatre to undertake the daunting task of typing out the Bard’s complete works – which feature more than a million words.

How we met them:

Pixie Labs began the process of developing working solutions for each creation with a prototyping and design phase. Each idea was sketched out in progressively higher resolution until we had a build-ready visualisation.

The process allowed Pixie Labs to showcase our versatility as well as our creativity. All the prototypes were completely different; our day-to-day activities included writing code, designing components for 3D printing, laser cutting and soldering. The prototypes were then connected to Twitter and installed in the gallery so the public could interact with them.

In the case of #‬‬‬‬‬‬wordbyword, Alice In Wonderland was typed out in a matter of days. However, completing the works of Shakespeare – plays, sonnets and other poems – took more than six months to achieve.

We’re proud of our ability to answer any question put to us. And we are proud of the work we undertook on this piece, which underscores our ability to experiment, to innovate and to bring cutting-edge concepts to life.

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