Control the London Eye’s lights with your Twitter and Facebook messages

By Katelynn Thys  |  BSU at the Games

The London Eye will be adding a bit of flavor to the night sky during the Olympic Games this year. Instead of its typical blue lights, a new software program will track tweets and illuminate the iconic attraction with green, orange and purple lights every evening.

Ambassadors for the EDF Energy London Eye hit the streets in bright orange shirts and perfectly white pants with a giant dry-erase board in the shape of a Polaroid picture frame, asking people to write a message on the frame and have their photograph taken with it. They are displaying the pictures on their motion control boat right behind the Eye, where people are encouraged to visit and tweet, and at the Waterloo tube station. The ambassadors were found through a promotions company and are trying to help everyone become affiliated with how EDF is sponsoring the energy and electricity that is running the Olympic Stadium and now the EDF Energy London Eye.

“This is the best way to be a part of the Olympics, we are interacting with the people through a brand,” EDF Ambassador Kayleigh Thadani said.

Marketing Director for EDF Energy, Martin Stead, said the way they have promoted the motion control boat has been really obvert.

“We tried to create a sense of intrigue, and what we see is a number of people who found out about it, come down,” he said.

The EDF ambassadors are trying to publicize the interactive light show taking place each night during the Olympic Games at the Eye. Ambassador Rosie Akerman explained how it works: When people visit the Eye’s boat and tweet or post on Facebook about the Olympic Games, special software filters the messages into positive, neutral or negative categories. Each evening, the Eye will show “How Britain is Feeling Today” because the technology is only tracking tweets that are being done through the UK. If 75 percent of the messages were positive, the giant wheel will light up 75-percent orange. Purple lights indicate the amount of negative messages and green lights the neutral ones.

Jessica Pier, SoSo Limited employee, said that EDF Energy came to them and asked them to create a software that would filter the tweets into the positive, negative or neutral categories. The software takes the tweets regarding the Games and runs it through a process depending on emotional words, then the algorithm adds the words together in a formula that gives the overall rating on how positive or negative the status was, and the end result is a light show that gives a summary of the day.

“It picks up on key words, so it’s not always perfect, but it is pretty accurate,” Akerman said.

Akerman explained that if you tweeted, for example, “The Olympic Games are brilliant” the software would pick up on brilliant and put it in the positive category, but if you said “Olympic Park is horrible, nothing to do” it would be detect the word horrible and be filtered into the negative category.

The light show brings to life what the nation is feeling about the games.

“In the U.K we have an ambition to be the feel better energy company, so this is our way of engaging people in the games,” Martin Stead said.

Eric Anderson of Dallas and Adam Elkhad of Minneapolis wrote “Go USA” on the Polaroid frame when they had their picture taken.

“I think this is just a great idea,” Elkhad said. “They’re using a recognizable piece of landscape, too, that will catch people’s eyes.”

The sentiment was shared among locals as well.

“This is just so clever and amazing. My family and I love it,” London native Melanie Gordon said.

Katelynn Thys is a junior telecommunications and journalism major at Ball State University and features reporter for BSU at the Games. Follow Katelynn and the BSU team at @skyismylimit_kt@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.

Author: ColleenSteffen

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