‘Tweeting Willow’ 

‘Tweeting Willow’


Concens actuators bring life to innovative ‘Tweeting Willow’ for Microsoft

Microsoft commissioned the innovative British artists Harvey & John to design a ‘social tree’ for their world partner conference in Washington DC in 2014. The assignment was to create an installation that connects the people at the event, tablets in a new way and explore new ways to try to interest the visitors. The result was the stunning and innovative Tweeting Willow, brought to life by sleek in-line actuators from our Danish manufacturer Concens.

The installation ‘Tweeting Willow’ is triggered by a tweet with the event’s special hashtag. When the tweet is sent, an animation of a bird lands on a branch starting at one of the tablets. When the bird touches the branch, the connected metal ‘branch’ begins to gently bend down, bringing the tablet to eye level and revealing the original tweet to visitors. Once all nine branches are bent, they all automatically return to their original position as the animated birds fly away. New tweets are then welcome to be received again. Nine tablets bend the branches and the visitors can change the hashtag that activates the actuators themselves and change content as well.

Actuators meet artistic requirements

Innovator and artist Keivor John felt that Concens‘ in-line actuators were just the right choice to give Tweeting Willow its natural movements.
“With only 6 weeks to complete the entire project, we needed to quickly find the right technology to bring the tree to life. The requirements were a very slim and quiet actuator, with a 500mm stroke and precisely controllable to mimic a natural look,” he explains. “Concens in-line actuators meet all our requirements and after some programming we can even make the movements so gradual that it is no longer a robot but a living tree.”
At the Microsoft world partner conference, Tweeting Willow naturally attracted a lot of attention, and now the art and communication installation is permanently placed in Microsoft’s headquarters in Seattle.
Harvey & John is a creative studio founded by artists and innovators Richard Harvey and Keivor John. The studio is known for the intersection of invention, design, art and engineering, with a strong focus on how imaginative design can inspire people in their everyday lives.

Unique presentation of actuator capabilities
“This is one of the best examples of the unique functionality of the Concens actuators,” says René Lynge, director at Concens in Denmark. “Our actuators are widely used in industries such as rehabilitation, automotive, industrial automation and construction technology. But this innovative art project creates a unique representation of the capabilities of our actuators.”

To get an impression of the ‘Tweeting Willow’, you can also watch the following video:

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