Virtual Free Range


Someone is definitely joking.

In order to fool enclosed chickens into thinking they are free-range chickens, developer Austin Stewart has started the Second Livestock project. The Oculus Rift-like apparatus apparently allows the chicken to exist in a virtual environment, interacting with their surroundings and using motion tracking to peck at virtual bugs. Basically, these chickens will live in a video game, thinking that they’re free range, without the farmer needing to dedicate the space.

“There’s waving grass, a few trees and some artificial intelligence chickens wandering around as well,” says Stewart.

The more you find out about the project, the more it sounds like a straight-faced poke at modern social norms. “It’s as much about animal husbandry as it is about human husbandry,” Stewart said at one of the TED-like talks he has been giving around the midwest. “We live in little boxes, we work in little boxes, and then we’re engaging in these virtual environments more. Why wouldn’t chickens choose the same thing?”

Second Livestock Teaser from Austin Stewart on Vimeo.


What Sparks Our Fire: Self-awareness is a very important aspect of human life, but maybe not chicken life.

Do you think chickens would know the difference?

Radioactive Animal Husbandry

The new Godzilla movie comes out today, and I know that everyone has the same question on their minds: Could a gigantic radioactive fire-breathing murder-lizard actually exist in the real world?

The short answer is no. No it can’t.

According to YouTube channel Vsauce, if the bones supporting a beast several times longer, taller, and bigger than the largest animal on earth did not shatter under its own weight, the caloric intake necessary would increase the human mortality rate by 1.3%. So if gravity didn’t kill the thing outright, he wouldn’t have the energy to eat enough to not starve to death.

So yeah, don’t worry about it if a Godzilla actually comes out of the ocean. Just hide and wait for him to starve to death.

What Sparks Our Fire: Knowing that in this world of danger, at least we don’t have to worry about Godzilla.

Are you seeing the movie this weekend?

Blowing My Lid

I drink at least 2 Starbucks Venti coffees a day. I know, I have a problem. However, perhaps I’d drink less if half the drink didn’t spill all over my hands on the the walk from the counter to my car. I’ve come up with lots of creative ways to stop this from happening, the most effective method being a straw you fold once and push into the lid opening (you’re welcome), but the inherent problem is the lid itself. It seems to be made specifically to spill.


A company called Vaporpath has taken it upon themselves to design a lid meant to prevent spilling, if such an odd concept is possible. Their lid is on the left in the GIF above.


The design is reminiscent of a stealth fighter jet, with a wider vertical opening and deep indentation, and is designed to catch spilled coffee. As well, the opening is not directly on the lid, which makes it more like drinking from a regular cup. As a bonus the plastic is odorless and recyclable, and hopefully will replace the old lids before I ruin another white shirt.

What Sparks Our Fire:  Solving one of the great modern-day inconveniences.

How would you improve the standard coffee lid?

X-Ray Goggles


I assume driving tanks is difficult, mostly because the vehicle is less “windows” and more “opaque metal”. When the bullets are flying it’s probably not a good idea to stick your head out and try to see where you’re going. The Norwegian army has elected to solve this problem with virtual reality. In this video, we see Norwegian soldiers navigating city blocks using the virtual reality technology known as Oculus Rift. Using civilian technology and design, the tank operator can “see” through the sides of his vehicle with a 185 degree range of motion. This application is much more cost effective than the army’s current option, comparing $10,000 cameras to $2,000 cameras, and the Oculus Rift’s fairly modest price of $350 to the army’s $35,000 current VR headset.

What Sparks Our FIre: Creating applications for technolgy that may save lives in the future.

What other uses can you think of for VR headsets?

Go Outside and Play

It is not often a member of the Social Generation takes a hard, self-aware look at the culture, or lack thereof, that is building around smart devices. While we at Canopy are all about social media and smart devices, it’s important to realize these advances are meant to accentuate our lives, not overtake them. Take a look at your social use and ask yourself, how much is too much?

What Sparks Our Fire: It is only by realizing our faults that we improve our lives.

Why aren’t you going outside right now?