This magnificent chicken-tapping robot makes money for you on Egg, Inc.

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Egg, Inc. is a game where you hatch special chickens to lay magic eggs that you ship off to consumers for bizarrely high profits. A big part of the game is tapping a button to send chickens running from your hatcheries to your coops. If you don’t want to tap the button, you can build a robot to tap the button for you.

The physics of the running chickens are one of the most fun parts of the game, and the more chickens you have on the screen, the more money you make. It’s really easy to distinguish between no extra profit and a lot of profit by looking at how many chickens you tapped out.

Easily interpreted interfaces like this make for great glanceability. Glanceable interfaces give us an immediate sense of a more specific number, and they can sit unobtrusively in the background while we do other stuff.

In the game, the chickens represent fake profit and fake productivity, and they only run if you’re tapping the button. But I wanted them to represent real profit and real productivity, and I want them to run without my input.

So I built this chicken to tap my chicken button to make the chickens run. And it only goes off if I’m browsing work sites on the internet– like my to-do list or my email. If I go to Reddit or Netflix, no chickens.

This means that the game now records my actual productivity instead of my game productivity.

The hack works by using a chrome extension to track what pages you visit, and check if they are on a list of “productive” or “unproductive” sites. It relays this info to a Particle Photon microcontroller inside the homemade chicken puppet, which holds down the button if you’re on a work site and stops holding the button if you’re browsing Reddit or Netflix.

Now when I’m on Reddit, no chickens run. And when I’m writing code on the Particle IDE, all the chickens run. Something in-between, like Wikipedia, lets a few chickens out, but not too many.

Ready to build it yourself?