Some cities conjure particular emotional associations: Seattle is rainy or at least cloudy a good deal of the time, so when you think of Seattle, you may think “gloomy.” New York seems to move at a much faster pace, which is undoubtedly stressful to visitors unfamiliar with the tempo of a massive metropolis. When you think New York City, you may think “harried” or “irritable” or even “angry.” New Orleans has that Old World charm and a pace that feels almost the opposite of that of New York City. And then there’s Mardi Gras. Therefore, when you think of New Orleans, you may very well think “festive” or “cheerful.”
Now, what about Denver, Colorado? When you think of that city, a gateway to the beautiful Rocky Mountains, what mood or spirit comes to mind?
We’re stumped, too, but Chadwick John Friedman isn’t. Friedman, who refers to himself on his website simply as “Chadwick John,” a specialist in emergent digital practices with the University of Denver, has created a device to assess the mood of his buzzing, diverse municipality. With the help of a 3D printer, an Arduino Yún, and Denver-area Twitter users, Friedman designed his Mood of the City 3D printed lamp.
The Arduino Yún is a microcontroller board that’s different from other Arduino boards because it can communicate with the Linux distribution on-board, which makes it a powerful networked computer that’s still easy to use. It’s similar to the Leonardo as it has a built-in USB communication, so no additional processor is required. This allows the Yún to appear to a connected computer as a mouse and keyboard in addition to a virtual (CDC) serial/COM port.
Friedman decided to tap into Twitter to gauge the mood of Denver-based users at any given time. He compiled a list of specific keywords that people tweeted that could be associated with moods or emotions. He accesses the Twitter API (application programming interface) with the help of Temboo, the cloud-based code generation platform. As the tweets are retrieved, they are outputted onto the Arduino Yún’s serial monitor and are classified under one of three emotional states: Happy, sad, or angry.
That seems like an awful lot of data to sift through, and it is, so Friedman restricted the tweet retrieval to Twitter users who lived within a 12 mile radius in the Denver metropolitan area. As the tweets come in and are classified, the 3D printed lamp glows the color associated with a particular mood. When the lamp, which resembles a miniature skyscraper, glows orange, the city is angry. When it emanates a sapphire blue light, the people — or at least the Twitter users — of Denver are sad. When the Twitter Mood Lamp glows green, the majority of incoming tweets are happy.
Friedman built in some flexibility, too, so if you want to use the lamp for an extended period of time, you can tell the Yún to forget tweets that are an hour old or more. You can also indicate a specific time of the day you want the Yún to assess the mood of your city and you’ll get the color most closely associated with that time of day. We imagine that tweets that come in around 5 or 6 p.m. are as green as the Emerald City, although they likely change quickly to orange when commuters hit the streets and traffic snarls ensue.
I like to imagine the Tweets on days when the Denver Broncos are playing as the lamp alternates between an angry orange with a bad call or a bad play to a sad blue when the opponent scores. What Denver fan wouldn’t forgo the orange and blue, the team’s colors, for a nice green as the game ends?
Are you intrigued by the Mood of the City lamp? If you’ve created your own 3D printed lamp, does this design inspire you to incorporate Arduino technology into it? Let us know your thoughts in the 3D Printed Mood Lamp forum thread over at 3DPB.com.
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