ByMarlon McDonald, writer at
Umm... are you going to drink that Skooma?
Marlon McDonald

In an awesome piece of news, it seems as if we're not the only creatures that dig video games, as orangutans at Melbourne Zoo in Australia have been enjoying a spot of fun with Microsoft's Kinect in an experiment to discover how they learn and react with technology.

The research project, helmed by the University of Melbourne's Microsoft Research Center for Social Natural User Interfaces and Zoos Victoria is a world first initiative, and follows from earlier limited trials where orangutans operated touchscreen computers and tablets, but were deemed a little unsafe because humans were required to hold the technology.

Despite the tests being successful, the animal specialists at Zoos Victoria wanted something more for the orangutans. Something they could engage with in any way they saw fit, and "provide a new form of stimulation for the apes, giving them the ability to initiate their own fun while stimulating their problem solving."

Then along came Zap, a game where a little red dot explodes into many more little dots when touched. The Zoo's 12-year-old orangutan Malu was involved in initial testing and was said to have had a blast playing Zap. Every time a red dot appeared, Malu would move closer to it and kiss it. And when another one appeared, he'd inch over and do the same again.

Zoos Victoria hopes that this initiative will lead into a whole new era of interactivity between visitors and the animals. Imagine a world where we can play video games with apes! But just don't show them Kinect Star Wars, we might have a Rise of the Planet of the Apes moment then.

(Source: Microsoft)


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