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 Poultry.Internet - Human-to-Chicken Pet-Touching Through the Internet

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Date posted: 08/02/2005

(Press Release) It looks like it will be a good year ahead for the 10th animal in Chinese Zodiac. In the coming Year of the Rooster, researchers from the Mixed Reality Lab of the National University of Singapore (NUS) have developed a revolutionary invention that will bring a whole new Internet experience with one's beloved pet chicken.

Pet chicken? you ask... Gone are the days when we lived in the kampong (Asian village) and poultry pets in the backyard were a norm. The clucking of chickens mixed harmoniously with the laughter of children and the yelling (for dinner) of mothers.

Now researchers are perfecting technology which will bring back those good memories. They have built a system which lets people interact with chickens remotely through the Internet. And it is both physical and visual. The chicken owner is able to remotely touch the chicken -- anytime, anywhere. Also, with the aid of a special goggles, users are able to see the 3D image of the real chicken running around the backyard right in front of their work desk, live! And as the chicken wanders around in the backyard, its human owner is able to feel its legs movement physically when their own legs tingle with an electric signal.

Poultry.Internet (http://mixedreality.nus.edu.sg/research-TI-infor.htm), developed by Dr. Adrian David Cheok, the Director of Mixed Reality Lab, and his Researcher, Mr. Lee Shang Ping, has been under development in the laboratory for nearly two years, and has recently been accepted for publication in the prestigious scientific journal, "Personal and Ubiquitous Computing." It 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 and they are raised solely for meat and eggs despite the fact that they have high levels of both cognition and feelings. Studies show that chickens enjoy and are more productive if they are touched regularly.

Poultry.Internet (http://mixedreality.nus.edu.sg/research-TI-infor.htm) is a man-poultry interactive system which amalgamates Internet technology, advanced 3D live-capturing computer vision, augmented reality, sensors, haptics, cybernetics and, most importantly, humanity.

"This is the first human-poultry interaction system ever developed," said Dr. Cheok. Poultry.Internet consists of a Backyard System and an Office System. In the Backyard System, the chicken is kept in an area with a few web-cams around it. The chicken wears a special electronic jacket, which, when activated, will create vibration and bring the sense of being touched and massaged. Also equipped in the jacket are small sensors which sense the chicken's legs movement. In the Office System, the chicken owner has a lightweight, portable mechanical system which has a chicken doll sitting on top of it. The doll is able to move in a planar manner. Inside the hollow body of the doll are special sensors which are sensitive to human's touch, and will transmit the touch signal to the live chicken. Hence, the doll in the Office actually represents the real chicken in the Backyard. Both the Backyard and Office are connected in real-time through the Internet.

The overall system works as follows: you can walk in your office, switch on the portable system, and see -- as if it is alive -- the pet chicken doll moving exactly the same way as the real chicken pet is in the Backyard, in front of your own eyes. You can touch the doll, and through the Internet the chicken will feel the touch in the same spot on its body. You can then see on the screen that the chicken, which is wearing the special jacket, is happy and pleased as your hand moves over the body of the doll. The doll is also moving physically on the mechanical system, just as if the real chicken is brought onto the Office desk. You can then put on the goggles, and with the aid of a paper marker, see the 3D live image of the chicken. You can then put on a special shoe with electric sensors, and as the chicken stretches its muscles and walks in the Backyard, you will feel your own foot having a mild electrically stimulated sensation. This allows novel applications such as a feeling of "dancing with chickens."

The system can be further developed and used in wider applications. One of the novel ideas from the laboratory researchers is that this system can be used in dogs for homeland security and rescue work purposes. The security officer can silently signal the dog by remotely touching it, giving it hints and instructions.

"Internet hugging" is another area which could exploit the use of this system. With improved special jackets, kids could wear them and this allows a mother or father to hug her or his kids good night while she or he is far away on business.

Dear Rooster, are you online?

See the full Story via external site: mixedreality.nus.edu.sg

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