Full chicken jacket

A revolutionary invention lets people interact with chickens remotely over the Internet.

‘This is the first human-poultry interaction system ever developed’ – Dr. Cheok.

Researchers from the Mixed Reality Laboratory at the NationalUniversity of Singapore(NUS) have developed a revolutionary invention that will let people interact with chickens remotely over the Internet.

The ‘Poultry Internet’ project at the NUS is the brainchild of Dr. Adrian David Cheok, the Director of the Mixed Reality Laboratory and his Researcher Mr. Lee Shang Ping, who have been hatching the system for nearly two years.

The two claim that the rather unusual system is targeted at ‘the serious aspect of promoting the welfare of our maltreated poultry friends’. Poultry are one of the most badly treated domestic animals, they say, despite the fact that they have high levels of both cognition and feelings.

Yet studies show that chickens enjoy and are more productive if they are touched regularly.

So why not just reach out and touch them? Well, that’s pretty much what the Poultry Internet system allows bird owners to do.

The system itself consists of what’s called a Backyard System (that, funnily enough, resides in the Backyard) and an Office System (that’s deployed in the Office, of course). The two are connected in real time through the Internet.

In the Backyard System, the chicken is kept in an area surrounded by web-cams. She wears a special electronic jacket, which, when activated, vibrates and brings a sense of being touched and massaged.

The Office System comprises a lightweight system which has a chicken doll sitting on top of it. Inside the hollow body of the chicken doll are touch sensitive sensors.

As the owner touches the bird doll in the Office, the signal from the sensors are sent over the Internet to the chicken’s jacket, allowing her to feel the touch on the same spot on her body. The owner can see the chicken’s reaction on the screen of a monitor.

The inventors believe that there’s a great potential for the Poultry Internet system – aside from watching birds, that is.

One of their ideas is that it could be deployed as a signalling tool for dogs that are trained for Homeland Security and rescue work. In such an application, a security officer could signal the dog by remotely touching it, giving it hints and instructions. ‘Internet hugging’ is perhaps a little more extraordinary – in this application, kids wearing touch sensitive jackets could be hugged by their parents while the parents are away on business.

Needless to say, I came up with a couple of my own ideas here. One was to help the cash strapped National Health Service with a ‘Patient Aid’ that would reduce the number of nurses needed on our wards. The other was another Homeland Security application that would allow UK Home Office officials to ‘remotely interrogate’ potential terror suspects. (That’s enough of that – Ed.).

Dave Wilson