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There are more chickens than people in the world. You never know when useless trivia such as this one will come in handy. Earth is home to nineteen billion chickens. That’s almost three chickens to every one person! There are too many chickens and not enough space for them to live a free-range lifestyle. Keeping them caged up is cruel so Austin Stewart came up with a brilliant solution with the creation of “Second Livestock”, which uses the technology of the Oculus Rift.
Confused? Ok, so for those who don’t know, the Oculus Rift is a virtual reality headset that lets users look around a virtual reality world as if they were standing inside it. The equipment “Second Livestock”, which is a pun on the popular human simulator game “Second Life”, is modified to simulate a virtual environment where the chickens could be raised under the illusion of being in an open and free area, away from confined space.
Austin Stewart, who is an assistant professor at the Iowa State University, presented “Second Life” at an art and design exhibition on the 23rd of April where people were able to try out the device (he had a human-sized Oculus Rift made just for this exact purpose).
The simulator shows a green, grassy field with bushes and other virtual chickens. A yoga ball is used as a track pad, which allows the user to move around in the virtual world. Basically, the equipment provides with a virtual free range experience for chickens where they are free to roam, socialize with virtual chickens and eat virtual food, which appears in the virtual world where their real food trays are located.
This is suppose to keep the chickens happy and safe from predators and to compensate for the lack of space required for them to live a free ranged lifestyle.
Stewart’s invention is not a real product but a concept designed to make us think, reflect and ask questions. It is a statement on how technology is growing integration into people’s lives
“The goal of the project is to raise that question of how do we know what’s best, or what is humane treatment,” said Austin Stewart to the Ames Tribune, “and also to look at how we treat ourselves. We’re living in these little boxes, just like chickens.”
Nowadays, we spend way to much time cooped up indoors, either at home or at work in cubicles. We are only living through our computers. As a writer who’s typing up this article on a computer, I must agree.
Written By: Marina