Tweet Bubble Series

twitter tweets

The Tweet Bubble Series consists of four wearable speech bubble prototypes developed during a three month residency at V2_, Institute for the Unstable Media. All four prototypes are based on the idea that a Twitter user shows his/her latest Twitter post in the form of a wearable speech bubble on the clothing in public.

‘Twitter’ is a Web2.0 platform that fills the gap between blogging, instant messaging, and SMS. All messages posted on Twitter are public by default and stored as single HTML pages. Due to Twitter’s growing success, the platform is about to become a standard communication tool. The way in which Twitter is used to communicate within a social network is largely shaped by the absence of physical proximity between users and the relative anonymous social exchange that the platform allows. To investigate deeper the role of this absence of physical proximity and relative anonymous exchange in the use of Twitter, the central question to the wearable speech bubble prototypes is:

What would it be like to not only show your latest message online, but also to publicly display it on your T-shirt?

The Tweet Bubble Series has been developed as part of the ‘Wearable Technology AIR’ artist-in-residence program at V2_ Lab in Rotterdam during the spring of 2009.

Thanks to the whole V2_Lab crew for the good time! And special thanks to my hard working and patient project team: Piem Wirtz and Simon de Bakker!

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Pocket Tweets – a cell phone display enabled Twitter shirt for everyday use.

Pocket Tweets takes advantage of existing technology. Why invent a new screen when the mobile phone, our private mobile window to the digtal world is already there? A small Java application is offered for download to be installed on an internet activated cell phone. The application asks for the Twitter screen name, then receives the latest tweet from the web and displays the message on the screen. The concept is to wear the phone in a custom designed pocket on a shirt, jacket or bag. A speech bubble shaped cut-out in the cloth shows the displayed message to the public. The ubiquitous mobile phone turns a normal shirt into wearable technology. The private screen of the mobile phone becomes a public display.

Download PocketTweets.jar for your phone

‘How to’ instruction and technical documentation at V2 wiki.

Hand embroidery by Nina Thielicke
Software programming by Simon de Bakker

More pictures on flickr


Loud Tweets – A LED name badge hacked into a personal Twitter feed scroll ad.

Loud Tweets introduces its own technology. The new, low cost, mass-produced LED name badges, made in China, are modelled on the classic LED bar display. Scrolling text on red LED bars represents a very typical and specific advertising culture. It demands of attention and is used in any kind of public space from shopping centres to public transport.

The small 21×7 pixel, red LED name badge can be programmed by three buttons to display 255 characters as a scrolling message. Through a connected Arduino board, the display receives the latest Twitter message of the user. Loud Tweets is a custom hacked device of fairly low cost hacked components. The attention culture of Twitter and the cheapness of LED combine into a personal micro advertisement sign for public space.

Technical documentation on V2 wiki

Hardware hack and software programming by Simon de Bakker

More pictures on flickr

Classic Tweets – Standard claims sewn into thermo-chromatic enabled T-shirts.

Classic Tweets incorporates a novel technology to use a T-shirt/hoodie as a display: A conductive wire is sewn into thermo-chromatic cloth. The cloth changes colour on temperature change. When the conductive wire is heated up by electricity, the shirt’s thermo chromatic ink around the wire turns white. Three very common Twitter messages are sewn into the Classic Tweets hoodie and can be separately ‘lit up’ by the user.

“Having coffee”, “Looking at …” or “retweet” represent a small range of typical Twitter messages. The presence and the need to share the moment are the momentum of the service. The repetitive nature of everyday life is condensed into the Classic Tweets T-shirt.

Technical documentation on V2 wiki

Embroidery, sewing and setup by Piem Wirtz, hardware and software by Stan Wannet and Simon de Bakker.

More pictures on flickr

Paper Tweets – Twitter messages printed on stickers for crowds.

In contrast to Pocket Tweets and Loud Tweets which are designed to experiment in everyday public space, Paper Tweets functions as a conference intervention ideal for big events. Conference visitors are invited to wear speech bubble stickers with their own latest Twitter message on their clothing to engage real life / virtual identity – cross communication. Participants must first register with their Twitter screen name. In return they receive a blank speech bubble including a RFID tag. The user receives regularly printed updates of his/her own twitter message. A mobile team equipped with RFID scanners and label writers prints the individual current message of each registered user in real time on the spot. The relation between digital and printed feed combined with the chase for the actual printed message leads to an absurd play of interaction. The ephemeral nature of Twitter posts is subverted by paper based communication.

Technical documentation on V2 wiki

Custom wireless RFID reader hardware and software programming by Simon de Bakker

More pictures on flickr

How to join ‘Paper Tweets’ in 3 simple steps:

1. Your Twitter ID gets written to an empty, RFID enabled speech bubble badge. (‘mvbree’ has two accounts)

2. A wireless RFID reader tells the computer which Twitter feed to pull from the web to be send to the label printer.

3. Update your account from any device you like. Get regular printed updates of your lates tweet and wear them!

125 Mhz RFID reader/writer, 443 Mhz serial wireless reader