"Kinecting With Orangutans"

It's been a while since we've had two Kinect stories in a week, but Thursday's was already in the can and I couldn't pass this one up... I mean, who could? :)

Kinecting With Orangutans

KINECT: The technology which first let you play Forza with a steering wheel or dance on Just Dance is now being used to allow orangutans to learn, interact with technology and make social choices. The tests, launched this week at Melbourne Zoo, will allow the primates to physically engage with digital projections through Xbox Kinect.

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The project, a collaboration launched between Zoos Victoria and the Microsoft Research Centre for Social Natural User Interfaces, intends to give the highly intelligent animals (They, after all, share 97% of the same genes as us.) a new method of providing cognitive challenges, games as well as a new medium for communication with humans. They chose to use the Xbox Kinect system as orangutans can use it more freely whereas tablets and touchscreen devices often suffered damage in the hands of the highly curious primates. Kinect is definitely perfect for the job with its advanced motion tracking and 3D scanning technology dubbed Light Coding and able to track up to six people, or orangutans, simultaneously.

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That is what happened in the first trial of using Xbox Kinect with orangutans, and it does indeed show that they prefer to use all of their body to interact, not just their hands. Even more impressive, computer games, painting games and picture galleries specifically made for orangutans are being developed so that they can communicate with zoo visitors in the very near future. Imagine having a dance off on Just Dance with an orangutans using Kinect!

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Furthermore, research at Zoos Victoria has demonstrated orangutans enjoy interacting with and watching visitors, meaning there is opportunity to encourage this interaction as part of their enrichment program.”

On the more practical side of things, Kinect is being used for the welfare of the orangutans, as applications on it are being used to simulate problems and challenges often found in the wild so that even in an enclosure they can learn a few essential survival problem solving skills.

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Project Information URL: http://www.techflow.co/orangutans_kinect/

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