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Will Chickens Be Really Happy After Being Given Virtual Free Range?

Will Chickens Be Really Happy After Being Given Virtual Free Range?

Austin Stewart is an assistant professor at Iowa State University and a virtual reality enthusiast. He recently delivered a presentation on an extremely silly idea that manages nonetheless to propose some real questions that are worth answering. He outlined his fictional business Second Livestock (a play on the name of the virtual reality sim game Second Life) as a provider of Oculus Rift-like headsets for farm animals such as chickens so that they can enjoy virtual free range, which allows them to get the sense of movement and interaction in virtual reality even when they’re confined in small spaces. He goes into great detail on the “official” Second Livestock website, which outlines the process and the potential impact it can have on farm animals and the world at large. It’s really fascinating stuff, and a ton of work to put into something that most likely isn’t actually going to be implemented in the real world. Check out the full PDF of the presentation notes.

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virtual reality

    By using a headset, a wall TV display and a yoga ball trackpad, Stewart demonstrated to people in Iowa and Ohio (including a number of farmers) how virtual free range would work for the farm animals. The chickens would be able to enjoy the sense of motion, waving grass, a free trees and even some virtual reality chickens to pal around with in the digital realm. Participants had the opportunity to try out the chicken simulation themselves and were very impressed by it if still confused about its true implications. One of participants asked how the chickens would feel about having no real, tangible interactions. That brought up what’s basically the whole point of the Second Livestock fictional company: to think about how virtual free range would affect simple farm animals and how that would relate to the experiences humans will have as they become more and more entrenched in a virtual reality world.

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    trying it on

      Like the chickens Stewart spoke about and demonstrated in his presentation, we are also trapped in fairly tiny spaces (small apartments, cubicles, etc.) and try to get the feeling that we have more freedom than our boxed-in worlds lead us to believe most of the time. With that in mind, is virtual free range the next technological step forward for our species, or does it have the potential for harmful or even disastrous implications? Even though the idea of supplying thousands of chickens with virtual reality headsets is silly, that’s what Austin Stewart wanted to play a part in figuring out the ultimate answer to that question. Nothing has screamed that virtual free range is a danger yet, but it’s still very early on.

      enclosed

        No chicken has actually worn an Oculus Rift headset (to the best of my knowledge, at least) but Stewart said he’d consider taking his fictional business a step further by using some as real live test subjects. Again, the point wouldn’t be to actually make a company out of improving the well-being of farm animals (though that wouldn’t be a bad thing) but to further study how virtual free range works on a lower species in order to find out its possibilities and risks for people like us. We’re probably a long way off from answering questions like those with any real certainty. After all, most of us have never even worn a headset in which we can enjoy virtual free range. But the time when most of the world will have tried on an Oculus Rift headset is fast approaching, and the more research that can be done to figure out virtual reality’s effects outside of on science fiction shows will only give us a better understanding of our future.

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        More by this author

        Matt OKeefe

        Matt is a marketer and writer who shares about lifestyle and productivity tips on Lifehack.

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        Last Updated on February 15, 2019

        7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

        7 Tools to Help Keep Track of Goals and Habits Effectively

        Now that 2011 is well underway and most people have fallen off the bandwagon when it comes to their New Year’s resolutions (myself included), it’s a good time to step back and take an honest look at our habits and the goals that we want to achieve.

        Something that I have learned over the past few years is that if you track something, be it your eating habits, exercise, writing time, work time, etc. you become aware of the reality of the situation. This is why most diet gurus tell you to track what you eat for a week so you have an awareness of the of how you really eat before you start your diet and exercise regimen.

        Tracking daily habits and progress towards goals is another way to see reality and create a way for you clearly review what you have accomplished over a set period of time. Tracking helps motivate you too; if I can make a change in my life and do it once a day for a period of time it makes me more apt to keep doing it.

        So, if you have some goals and habits in mind that need tracked, all you need is a tracking tool. Today we’ll look at 7 different tools to help you keep track of your habits and goals.

        Joe’s Goals

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          Joe’s Goals is a web-based tool that allows users to track their habits and goals in an easy to use interface. Users can add as many goals/habits as they want and also check multiple times per day for those “extra productive days”. Something that is unique about Joe’s Goals is the way that you can keep track of negative habits such as eating out, smoking, etc. This can help you visualize the good things that you are doing as well as the negative things that you are doing in your life.

          Joe’s Goals is free with a subscription version giving you no ads and the “latest version” for $12 a year.

          Daytum

            Daytum

            is an in depth way of counting things that you do during the day and then presenting them to you in many different reports and groups. With Daytum you can add several different items to different custom categories such as work, school, home, etc. to keep track of your habits in each focus area of your life.

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            Daytum is extremely in depth and there are a ton of settings for users to tweak. There is a free version that is pretty standard, but if you want more features and unlimited items and categories you’ll need Daytum Plus which is $4 a month.

            Excel or Numbers

              If you are the spreadsheet number cruncher type and the thought of using someone else’s idea of how you should track your habits turns you off, then creating your own Excel/Numbers/Google spreadsheet is the way to go. Not only do you have pretty much limitless ways to view, enter, and manipulate your goal and habit data, but you have complete control over your stuff and can make it private.

              What’s nice about spreadsheets is you can create reports and can customize your views in any way you see fit. Also, by using Dropbox, you can keep your tracker sheets anywhere you have a connection.

              Evernote

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                I must admit, I am an Evernote junky, mostly because this tool is so ubiquitous. There are several ways you can implement habit/goal tracking with Evernote. You won’t be able to get nifty reports and graphs and such, but you will be able to access your goal tracking anywhere your are, be it iPhone, Android, Mac, PC, or web. With Evernote you pretty much have no excuse for not entering your daily habit and goal information as it is available anywhere.

                Evernote is free with a premium version available.

                Access or Bento

                  If you like the idea of creating your own tracker via Excel or Numbers, you may be compelled to get even more creative with database tools like Access for Windows or Bento for Mac. These tools allow you to set up relational databases and even give you the option of setting up custom interfaces to interact with your data. Access is pretty powerful for personal database applications, and using it with other MS products, you can come up with some pretty awesome, in depth analysis and tracking of your habits and goals.

                  Bento is extremely powerful and user friendly. Also with Bento you can get the iPhone and iPad app to keep your data anywhere you go.

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                  You can check out Access and the Office Suite here and Bento here.

                  Analog Bonus: Pen and Paper

                  All these digital tools are pretty nifty and have all sorts of bells and whistles, but there are some people out there that still swear by a notebook and pen. Just like using spreadsheets or personal databases, pen and paper gives you ultimate freedom and control when it comes to your set up. It also doesn’t lock you into anyone else’s idea of just how you should track your habits.

                  Conclusion

                  I can’t necessarily recommend which tool is the best for tracking your personal habits and goals, as all of them have their quirks. What I can do however (yes, it’s a bit of a cop-out) is tell you that the tool to use is whatever works best for you. I personally keep track of my daily habits and personal goals with a combo Evernote for input and then a Google spreadsheet for long-term tracking.

                  What this all comes down to is not how or what tool you use, but finding what you are comfortable with and then getting busy with creating lasting habits and accomplishing short- and long-term goals.

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