Eggheads Invent Tele-Petting
Researchers have developed a cybernetic system to allow physical interaction over the internet. The system allows touching and feeling of animals or other humans in real time, but it's first being tried out on -- chickens.
Built by a wacky group of researchers at the Mixed Reality Lab at the National University of Singapore, the Touchy Internet works as follows:
You walk into your office, where a hollow, chicken-shaped doll sits on a mechanical positioning table close to your computer.
The doll whirs to life as soon as you switch on the system, duplicating the motion of a real chicken in the backyard whose movements are being captured by a webcam.
Fondling the doll translates into touching the real fowl.
Touch sensors attached to the doll convey tactile information to a nearby PC through radio signals. The data is sent over the internet to a remote computer near the chicken; the remote computer triggers tiny vibration motors in a lightweight haptic jacket worn by the fowl.
The chicken feels your touch in the exact same place where the replica was stroked.
"This is the first human-poultry interaction system ever developed," said professor Adrian David Cheok, the leader of the team, who has been developing the technology for nearly two years.
"We understand the perceived eccentricity of developing a system for humans to interact with poultry remotely, but this work has a much wider significance," he added.
Promoting the welfare of un-caressed chickens is not the only goal here.
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