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Sphero as Your Twitter Watchdog Powered by IDOL OnDemand

Please note that HP IDOL OnDemand is now HPE Haven OnDemand. The API endpoints have changed to Haven OnDemand. Please see the API documentation for more details.




The Sphero ball is an interesting toy - it can be controlled by various applications on mobile devices, but it also offers an API to enable integration for code projects.


Dogs may guard your home - why not have a pet machine watch your social media?


In this blog post you'll learn how to program your Sphero to react to your Twitter feed!




What you'll need:

  • A Sphero - connect it to your laptop using bluetooth
  • A laptop/server

The Stack:

  • Node.js
  • Cylonjs - a nifty Javascript framework to interact with robots and devices. It doesn't offer all of the Sphero's functionality but it suits our needs
  • iod-node - an IOD client for node
  • Twitter - a node Twitter client
npm install git+
npm install cylon
npm install twitter

The Code


Code is available in full as a Gist.


var Cylon = require('cylon');
var Twitter = require('twitter');
var iod = require('iod-node')

var iodclient= new iod.IODClient('','<iodapikey>')

var twitterclient = new Twitter({
  consumer_key: '<twitterconsumerkey',
  consumer_secret: '<twitterconsumerkey>',
  access_token_key: '<twitteraccesstokenkey>',
  access_token_secret: '<twitteraccesstokensecret>'


First, you need to configure your clients with the apikeys from Twitter and IDOL OnDemand.

Once you've done that, it's time to get started with the Sphero part.


  connections: {
    sphero: { adaptor: 'sphero', port: '/dev/cu.Sphero-YBW-AMP-SPP' }

  devices: {
    sphero: { driver: 'sphero' }

  work: watchdog



Cylon makes it easy to create a Sphero adapter, you'll want to find the correct port for your Sphero. It will appear in /dev/ once you've connected to it once using bluetooth.


The work function will get called once the connection happens, here you'll want to call your watchdog function.


Analyzing Tweets


function watchdog(my){'statuses/filter', {track: 'sphero'}, function(stream) {
        stream.on('data', function(tweet) {
        //handle each tweet

        stream.on('error', function(error) {
          throw error;


The next step is to code the work function, called "watchdog", as above. We can use the Twitter streaming API to specify what happens for each tweet about a certain topic.


        stream.on('data', function(tweet) {
          var data= {'text':tweet.text};
            var sentiment = body["aggregate"]["sentiment"];
            my.sphero.roll(0,180) // Everytime the sphero will spin half a rotation
            if (sentiment=="positive"){  my.sphero.setRGB(0x01DF74) } //Green
            else if (sentiment == "negative"){  my.sphero.setRGB(0xFF3300) } //Red
            else{ my.sphero.setRGB(0x0066FF) } //Blue
            after((1).seconds(), function() { // Return to white


When we receive a tweet we can use the IDOL OnDemand client we created before to send the tweet to the Sentiment Analysis api.


            var sentiment = body["aggregate"]["sentiment"];


We can then make the Sphero spin and change color according to sentiment.


            my.sphero.roll(0,180) // Everytime the sphero will spin half a rotation
            if (sentiment=="positive"){  my.sphero.setRGB(0x01DF74) } //Green


That's pretty much it - you now have a Sphero that will spin red or green whenever a new tweet shows up, based on the sentiment of that tweet!


We'd love to hear about your experience - leave us a comment in the box below!


Get the Source Code:



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