(Bloomberg) -- Technology-conference showrooms are usually crammed with booths hawking software demos and branded swag, and attendees typically wander the floor donning prototype virtual-reality goggles or trying out other new hardware. But at Microsoft's annual Build event for developers, some of the visitors are a bit different. In fact, they aren’t even human.
in a lounge outside the main hall, behind a waist-high white picket fence, Microsoft is offering up a “Cuddle Corner," giving show-goers the chance to relieve the fatigue of a day of meetings and a 3 1/2 hour keynote speech by petting shaggy-maned miniature horses, fuzzy bunnies and what looked like a Golden Retriever.
This sort of furry therapy is becoming more common on college campuses. At Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, dogs are being deployed to help students de-stress during finals. Guides leading groups of prospective students at schools including the University of California, Los Angeles, boast of the popularity of emotional-support dogs at times of elevated anxiety. Still, this may be a first for a big tech conference. There are other signs that Microsoft is concerned about the health and well-being of Build’s attendees this year. Yesterday’s marathon keynote address was broken up with a few minutes of stretching exercises, led by Allison Krug, part of Microsoft’s Cloud Developer Advocacy Team. According to a co-worker’s post on Twitter, Krug was also the brains behind the petting zoo.
Microsoft’s developer relations team was so proud of its effort that it even tweeted out its own Build-centric version of the kids’ classic song “Old MacDonald.”
On Tuesday, Microsoft also provided other ways to amp up or wind down in a lounge it set up outside the Build keynote hall. A candy bar along one wall offered Pixy Stix, Lemonheads, Sour Patch Kids and other sugary choices for those in need of a non-caffeinated pick-up-me, along with probiotic shots in glass jars. In a nearby corner there were yoga mats and an adjacent quiet zone with books on the Linux and Python programming languages, which visitors could peruse while seated in egg-shaped chairs.
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