“Some people use Twitter for business, others use it to get the latest news or entertainment info. I use Twitter to have fun with my friends and ‘Twuppet’ is the new app that takes this to the next level! Instead of browsing through the vast amount of tweets the platform has to offer, Twuppet lets you interact with your dearest friends in a fun and personal way, so you’ll never miss the messages from the people you care about the most.”
This was the idea I brought to the latest installment of StartupWeekend Amsterdam, where 175 participants battled to form teams and create a start-up company in less than two days time. My idea was not picked from the incredible 74 one-minute pitches we had on Friday night, but after wandering the facility looking for a team that matched my interests, I eventually decided to go on with it anyway. The decision was backed by fellow #swAMS participants and freelance developers Valérie Alloix and Paul Tondeur, who were happy to leave their teams and join forces to create ‘Twuppet’. Awesome!
As we got settled in there was less than a day left to prepare for Sunday’s presentations. We were quite anxious when we saw the other big teams (with up to a dozen members) progressing at top speed, but we had already decided on just having fun with our little project. Because the enthusiastic feedback we got from the jury and SW mentors was so empowering (many thanks especially to @stevenblom and @mathys!), we decided to skip Saturday night’s sleep, called in favors from friends all around the world and made a working prototype of the desktop software in just 24 hours.
15 minutes prior to the weekends final presentation run we finished the prototype and it performed great in the live demo on stage. The presentation was streamed live but unfortunately not recorded, but there’s a screen-cast from the prototype below. In addition, you can download the prototype yourself and it runs on Windows, Mac and Linux (You need Adobe AIR to run the prototype, but chances are good that you already have it installed). Watch the video on Vimeo with HD quality.
What’s there to see? Twuppet will present the people in your twitter timeline as little animated puppets walking the bottom of your computer’s screen. The tweets appear in speech bubbles that will take different shapes depending on what the tweet is about. Question marks, exclamation points and hash tags like #fail or #idea will in addition cause the twuppet to act out the emotion in wonderful animations, laughing, crying, winking or raising its fists angrily. And whenever a twuppet is in your way, you can just throw it off to the side. Good fun!
In the middle of the night we had help from a number of accidental team members. The animations were done by our 4th team-member from overseas, Jeremy Joseph from Headache Films, who skipped a night just for us working from his office in Portland, Oregon. Our second hero of the weekend is fellow freelance developer Mathijs Baaij, who needed hardly no convincing to trade the Amsterdam night life for an entire night of coding speech bubbles. Lastly, Hugo Dechesne and his girlfriend Anna came over close to midnight to brainstorm the characters for the prototype. You guys are all so amazing, we couldn’t have done this without you!
We’re very proud of the result and would love to take it a step further, exploring the business side of things. Unfortunately we didn’t win any of the prizes so come Monday morning the three of us returned to our day jobs. We do want to polish the prototype just a little more so you as a user can select the friends you really want to have twuppetized, but there’s no guarantee as to when we find the time to do it.
Who knows what Twuppet can grow into…