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Australian researchers to develop video games for orangutans


Melbourne: Australian researchers are set to develop more customized video games for orangutans in the Melbourne Zoo to play with, following the success of the world’s first interactive study which aimed to entertain and stimulate the animals.

Earlier this year, researchers from the University of Melbourne’s Microsoft Research Centre collaborated with Zoos Victoria to experiment the use of interactive video games for the orangutans, a unique native Asian species, Xinhua news agency reported.

Researcher Marcus Carter said they found the programme resulting in a positive impact on the orangutans and their interactions with zoo visitors.

“We’re planning on running a longer study for a few months next year to explore more ideas and better understand how they take to the games over a longer period of time,” Carter told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Tuesday.

The researchers developed and games based on the orangutans’ responses, using Kinect 3D technology from Microsoft’s Xbox One gaming system.

The team initially designed a game using “intelligent projections,” which turned the floor of their enclosure into a touch screen. The game projected images onto the floor.

The orangutans’ movements surprised researchers after they played the first game.

The orangutans interacted not just with the projection on the floor, but with how the light projected onto their bodies.

“We tried to not make assumptions about the ways they might want to use technology. We’re really trying to learn from what they do,” Carter said.

The results from the trial led the researchers to develop a video game which would allow the orangutans to play the game from inside their enclosure, while also allowing for a person to play on the outside of it.

Researchers believe this interaction will allow humans and orangutans to safely share moments together and develop a stronger bond, which in turn could help change the perception of the animals.

The Melbourne researchers are currently developing a new audio game for the orangutans, which will play music when the animals move coloured objects.


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