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

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 25
    jragostajragosta Posts: 10,473member
    Followed by Google hiring those apes as UI designers.

    Microsoft was upset because they wanted to hire them as security experts.
  • Reply 2 of 25
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,495member


    iOS.  So easy a cavemen can use it.



    (Shameless GEICO plugin.)  :)

  • Reply 3 of 25


    An upgrade from the current customer base.

  • Reply 4 of 25


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

  • Reply 5 of 25


    Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

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


     


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

  • Reply 6 of 25
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    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.


    [VIDEO]
    [SIZE=2][URL=
  • Reply 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.
  • Reply 8 of 25
    emig647emig647 Posts: 2,406member

    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 :)

  • Reply 9 of 25
    anonymouseanonymouse Posts: 6,570member


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

  • Reply 10 of 25


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

  • Reply 11 of 25
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,428member


    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. 

  • Reply 12 of 25
    tylerk36tylerk36 Posts: 1,037member


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

  • Reply 13 of 25
    "Apple wrote:
    [" 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!
  • Reply 14 of 25
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,719member


    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.

  • Reply 15 of 25
    wizard69wizard69 Posts: 12,719member


    It is hard to come up with a good one.


    Quote:

    Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post


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


  • Reply 16 of 25
    dasanman69dasanman69 Posts: 12,976member
    wizard69 wrote: »
    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.
  • Reply 17 of 25
    That's one way to expand the addressable market...
  • Reply 18 of 25
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    retrogusto wrote: »
    That's one way to expand the addressable market...

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



    [VIDEO]
  • Reply 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?

  • Reply 20 of 25
    Are we talking about apes, Android users, both?
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