Are we running out of useful ways to spend our research resources?
Scientists have developed a system which enables people to stroke a chicken over the internet.
It's seen as the first step to virtual physical interaction, reports Wired News.
The Touchy Internet system was created by researchers at the National University of Singapore.
Users touch a chicken-shaped doll which duplicates the actions of a real chicken through a webcam link.
Touch sensors on the doll send 'tactile information' over the internet to a second computer near the chicken.
This computer triggers tiny vibration motors in a lightweight jacket worn by the chicken, meaning the chicken feels the user's touch in the exact same place as the doll was stroked.
"This is the first human-poultry interaction system ever developed," said Professor Adrian David Cheok who has been developing the technology for nearly two years.
"We understand the perceived eccentricity of developing a system for humans to interact with poultry remotely, but this work has a much wider significance."
Remote interaction could allow people who are allergic to dogs and cats to caress their pets remotely. Used in zoos, it may allow visitors to pat a lion or scratch a bear.