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Smithsonian zoo introduces iPads to orangutans with 'App for Apes' project

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
The Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C., is utilizing Apple's iPad as a new interactive enrichment tool aimed at cognitive development for the zoo's simians.

Apps for Apes
Source: National Zoo


In conjunction with 12 other zoos from around the world, the Smithsonian is participating in what has been dubbed "Apps for Apes," a program that leverages the touchscreen interactivity of Apple's iPad to enrich the lives of those apes in captivity, reports DCist.

The National Zoo first joined the initiative when a zookeeper's family member donated an iPad to the Great Ape House. After talking with fellow program participants, the zoo was able to home in on ten apps that seemed to be most conducive to interaction, including a number of music, drawing and game apps. According to a keeper in the video below, one orangutan named Iris is particularly fond of the popular app Koi Pond.

"Apps for Apes is all about giving orangutans in human care choice over their environment," said animal keeper Erin Stromberg. "With the iPad, we're hoping to tap less into the critical-thinking outlet and more into a creative outlet. If they're engaged in an app, we'll keep going. If not, they have the choice to walk away."

The zoo is no stranger to implementing high-tech solutions for studying animal behavior. For example, since 1994 the park has been using stationary touchscreen monitors to test orangutan memory. The iPads are being used in a different way, however, and represent a more cognitive approach to interacting with the captive simians.



While the work to meld consumer electronics technology with primate research is still in its infancy, zookeepers hope to one day fully utilize the iPad's potential and connect orangutans across continents using videoconferencing apps like FaceTime.

"Primarily, we want the Apps for Apes program to help people understand why we need to protect wild orangutans from extinction," said Richard Zimmerman, founding director of Orangutan Outreach. "We do that when we show Zoo visitors how similar humans and apes are, be it through observation, talking with wildlife experts or seeing the apes use the same technology we use every day."

The zoo is currently accepting donations of iTunes gift cards to broaden its app base, as well as direct iPad hardware donations that will be go to zoos across the U.S. Those interested may donate through the site's Giving Tree, while the Orangutan Outreach program handles all iPad hardware gifts.
post #2 of 25
Followed by Google hiring those apes as UI designers.

Microsoft was upset because they wanted to hire them as security experts.
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post #3 of 25

iOS.  So easy a cavemen can use it.

(Shameless GEICO plugin.)  :)

post #4 of 25

Groan.... cue the ape (Ape Store) , sheep (Apelle), "Macs are for dunces", etc etc jokes...... 1rolleyes.gif

post #5 of 25
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post
Groan.... cue the ape (Ape Store) , sheep (Apelle), "Macs are for dunces", etc etc jokes...... 1rolleyes.gif

 

Oh, good. You didn't see the (serious!) post I already deleted. lol.gif

post #6 of 25
Apes have been using touch screens for years now in the form of lexigram boards. The move to the iPad is just a natural progression.

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post #7 of 25
I was at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago the other day, they have replaced all the old touch screen PC's with iPads.
post #8 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by winstein2010 View Post

I was at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago the other day, they have replaced all the old touch screen PC's with iPads.

 

With single app mode in iOS 6, I'm sure we'll see more and more iOS kiosks :)

 

 

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post #9 of 25

I'm surprised there isn't a single Gorilla Glass joke yet

post #10 of 25

Apps for Apes... Android users want them too as it's a superior UI.

"That (the) world is moving so quickly that iOS is already amongst the older mobile operating systems in active development today." — The Verge
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post #11 of 25

It's a travesty that we put those smart apes, who apparently have excellent taste in electronic devices, behind cages, while we let Android users walk around freely. 

post #12 of 25

My Ex Mother in law should enjoy this one.  It fits her mentality.

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post #13 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by "Apple 
[" url="/t/155578/smithsonian-zoo-introduces-ipads-to-orangutans-with-app-for-apes-project#post_2262665"]It's a travesty that we put those smart apes, who apparently have excellent taste in electronic devices, behind cages, while we let Android users walk around freely. 

Post of the day!
post #14 of 25

My question is what do these people do when the ape uses an app to ask "let me out of this cage!"    I mean really once the ape realizes that he or she can express feelings with the device getting out of the damn cage ought to be a high priority.

 

I never really like going to zoos as honestly the animals there are broken and far removed from their wild state.   Nothing would be more satisfying than to have one of these beasts express their desire to be freed from the cage.

post #15 of 25

It is hard to come up with a good one.

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Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

I'm surprised there isn't a single Gorilla Glass joke yet

post #16 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post

My question is what do these people do when the ape uses an app to ask "let me out of this cage!"    I mean really once the ape realizes that he or she can express feelings with the device getting out of the damn cage ought to be a high priority.

I never really like going to zoos as honestly the animals there are broken and far removed from their wild state.   Nothing would be more satisfying than to have one of these beasts express their desire to be freed from the cage.

They would of course have to be in cages in the first place of which they are not.
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post #17 of 25
That's one way to expand the addressable market...
post #18 of 25
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Originally Posted by Retrogusto View Post

That's one way to expand the addressable market...

The Simian market is virtually untapped but you have to watch out...


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post #19 of 25
Originally Posted by wizard69 View Post
My question is what do these people do when the ape uses an app to ask "let me out of this cage!" Nothing would be more satisfying than to have one of these beasts express their desire to be freed from the cage.

 

Wouldn't they have to be closer to sentience than they are now?

post #20 of 25
Are we talking about apes, Android users, both?
post #21 of 25

Teaching apes to use tablets is not new. Microsoft been doing this for a while now. Just the other day, I saw a picture of Steve Ballmer using their new surface tablet.  lol.gif

post #22 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

Wouldn't they have to be closer to sentience than they are now?

Not at all. Apes can easily express their desire to be let out of their cages. Heck, even my dog can let me known when he wants to go out.
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post #23 of 25

It looked like they were just randomly tapping and swiping the screen to me, no comprehension of what they were doing.

post #24 of 25
Quote:
Originally Posted by ascii View Post

It looked like they were just randomly tapping and swiping the screen to me, no comprehension of what they were doing.

Have a look at some of the reports of what these apes have been trained to do. It's actually quite impressive - they've demonstrated the ability to understand and express abstract concepts and even have grammar rules.
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post #25 of 25
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Originally Posted by jragosta View Post


Have a look at some of the reports of what these apes have been trained to do. It's actually quite impressive - they've demonstrated the ability to understand and express abstract concepts and even have grammar rules.

Are you sure about that or is it just what the general culture has come to accept? Many of the biggest claims about great ape cognition were made by Marc Hauser who was found guilty of scientific misconduct last year. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marc_Hauser

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