London Eye Will Have Light Show Based on Twitter Enthusiasm

Melissa Knowles
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The 2012 London Olympic Games will officially begin in one week, and the queen's city has been sprucing itself up in anticipation of being at the center of the world stage. Along with new stadiums and enhanced security measures comes news that one of the city's biggest landmarks, the London Eye, will be transformed into an illuminating social media indicator of how people feel about the international games.

Former British decathlete Daley Thompson arranged for the Ferris wheel, the largest in Europe, to display a light show based on positive and negative reaction to the Olympics on Twitter. Here's how it works: When users use the hashtag #Energy2012, an algorithm based on "sentiment analysis" will track the tweets. The more positive the comments, the more the London Eye will glow. The program will rely on real-time "social sentiment tracking" that will split the tweets into positive and negative conversations, filter them, and then convert them into a light show

Thompson, who won gold in 1980 and 1984 in Moscow and Los Angeles, said he knows how important it is for athletes to know they're being supported. So far, people on Twitter are excited about the plan. One user wrote, "This is amazing," and another tweeted, "Let there be light."

According to EDF Energy, the company sponsoring the Ferris wheel, this will be the first-ever social media-driven light show. Thompson said, "We want to make the EDF Energy London Eye a spectacular showcase of national support for the athletes -- and one that will inspire them every night of the games."