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Things that make you go hmmm…

Imagine that you are in a Planet of the Apes movie. You are having a conversation with your fellow human. You’ve found a book from ancient times that depicts animals in cages and humans shepherding over them. You look at each other, both of you are wondering out loud “What was the tipping point that gave the apes control?…”

That was my first thought when I read this story about the Miami Jungle Island Zoo. Seems that they have decided to give their young orangutans iPads. Using iPads as communication tools, the zoo is using software that was invented to help those with autism. The report doesn’t say which software, but it could be FirstWords, Shape Builder or the software Proloquo2Go. Pictorial-based software.

The older orangutans are said to be completely disinterested, while the 8 year-olds have taken to them just like human 8 year-olds. They are using the iPads to draw, play games and developing new vocabulary.

Presently, the trainers are the ones holding on to the iPads during the interaction, as the large hand-size and strength of the orangutans make the iPads seem like delicate playthings. But they are hoping that technology can develop a larger-more durable physical device so that the apes can interact and correspond with the public.




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