Apps for Apes: We speak with Orangutan Outreach initiative’s Richard Zimmerman
Posted on Jul 2 2012 at 10:35:49 AM in Web-2.0
by Vishal Mathur of Think Digit
The iDevice isn’t limited to humans anymore! In an extremely innovative initiative, the Redapes organization is now deploying Apple iPads at various zoos across North America. The idea is to possibly create another medium by which the apes can communicate, and evolve that into something bigger, if the orangutans do like it! At the moment, activities include getting them to identify objects shown on the display, use FaceTime for dates (!!!) and even choose what they want in the next meal. The initial indications seem to be good, because the apes particularly the young ones, are taking to the device with a lot of excitement. Mr. Zimmerman explained how they are looking to expand on this idea, and their plans on building this into a medium of interspecies communication.
We spoke with Mr. Richard Zimmerman, Director @ Orangutan Outreach about how the concept came into being, how the apes are taking to the idea, and how this can be expanded further. Some may argue that this does not affect our daily routine or our lives, but the idea and concept seem too interesting to ignore. Read on to know more.
Q. How did the idea of giving iPads to orangutans come about? How well have they been received? We are sure the young ones are very excited!
The original idea came when I was watching Steve Jobs give his introductory presentation of the iPad. When I saw the close-ups of his fingers on the iPad I thought to myself– “This is perfect for orangutans!” Orangutans have used touch screens before in several facilities. In general, the female and young orangutans are very interested in the iPads and see the devices as something ‘new’ that needs to be explored. The big males tend to shy away from it– as if they sense it might be ‘dangerous’– like a vet with a syringe. From what we’ve seen, the males eventually overcome their nerves and approach the iPad. This was especially true in Milwaukee, where Tom (the big male cheekpadder) stayed away at first but eventually came to enjoy paying on the iPad. His keeper, Trish Khan, has in fact noticed a change in his entire demeanor. He seems much more relaxed now… and he’s less shy about coming to the glass when zoo visitors are present.
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