Love or loathe the Olympics? UK's Twitter mood to light up London Eye

An algorithm by MIT graduates will scour Twitter to work out how the country's feeling towards the Olympics, and translate the result into a light show on the capital's big wheel
Written by Jo Best, Contributor on

Whether you've taken to Twitter to share your excitement about the Olympics, or tweeted about how the Games is boring you to tears, you may have picked up a new follower: the London Eye.

From Friday, energy company EDF will be monitoring the UK's sentiment towards the upcoming Olympics, and will be converting it into a light show that will play out on the London Eye every night.

Using an algorithm developed by MIT graduates, EDF will gauge whether tweets about the Games are positive or negative. The results are totted up to give a positivity percentage, which is translated into a different light show every night at 9pm.

The London Eye shows off how the Olympic light show might lookImage credit: EDF

The algorithm will monitor tweets using phrases, hashtags and links such as 'Olympics' or 'London 2012', and will assess the location of the Twitter user by either the location specified on the profile, or IP address or GPS details they provide.

Emotional words including 'brilliant' and 'failure' will be given positive or negative scores, as will words that accentuate the sentiment, such as very, almost or never.

"Punctuation is also taken into account to boost (!!!) or reduce (?!?!) the energy count," EDF said on its website — while emoticons will also be analysed for positive or negative sentiment.

Justin Manor, founder of Sosolimited, the company that developed the technology for the light show, said in a statement: "The algorithm we developed converts real-time social emotions into colour and motion — tweets to light show. We distil 24 hours of action into a 24-minute visual concert that embodies the emotional peaks and troughs of the day."

Along with the UK's tweeted mood, the lightshow will also feature gold, silver or bronze lighting, should the British team make the podium that day.

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