Tweet Owl

Published on 10 January 2013

This is a project about physical, twitter and installation.

An owl that telekinetically detects tweets and then regugitates them out of its mouth

This project came after some experimentation with the Freerange networked printing service. The producer of BBC Radio 1's Dan and Phil show, a live video streamed broadcast, needed a way of getting tweets on air for the presenters to read out.

Dan and Phil's penchant for stuffed animals in the studio led to the Tweet Owl being hatched.

What it is

The social media producer of the show signs into a small hosted web app using the Radio 1 Twitter account. This shows all the latest Tweets being mentioned. The app allows tweets to be selected and send to print, the Tweet Owl's eyes flash and it emits a hoot. Pressing either eye triggers the tweets to be printed via the receipt printer.


A collaboration with Chris Lowis, we developed a small Sinatra web app to handled the Tweet selection and the rendering of the tweet print-out.

I ported the printer code from Arduino to Raspberry Pi since the Pi makes it much easier to connect to the internet via Wi-Fi. I also later ported my Python to JavaScript.


The owl featured in many live broadcasts on the Sunday evening show, gaining a top hat and bow tie before retiring.

I presented the owl at the Interacting with Digital Media in Connected Environments workshop at the BCS HCI Conference 2013.