Science!: iPads and Dolphins

Lauren Admire | 7 Jun 2010 21:00

Scientist Uses iPad to Communicate With Dolphins

The iPad might be getting flack for being nothing more than a glorified iPhone, but scientists now believe it could be used to successfully communicate with dolphins.

Scientists have been trying to communicate with cetaceans for years. Unfortunately, dolphins and whales have broad vocal ranges, and researchers have perpetually had trouble translating it to a language humans could understand. What scientists needed was a translator - a babelfish that spoke dolphin. It looks like the iPad might just be what we were looking for.

Jack Kassewitz, a dolphin researcher, explains: "For several years, we've recognized that part of the problem in creating an artificial language between humans and dolphins has been the speed of acquisition of the human brain; it's just not up to competing [with that of the dolphin]. [The dolphins] acoustic range is so broad and ours is so limited, and our speed to react to their sound is so slow, I think we were just plain boring."

Kassewitz has been trying to narrow down a selection of possible dolphin to human interfaces, and has decided to test both the iPad and the Panasonic Toughbook 19. Using a waterproof pouch, a dolphin can interact with the iPad or Toughbook screen and use it to communicate basic ideas.

The results from the iPad trials are promising. In one trial, Kassewitz shows an image to a dolphin using the iPad. If the dolphin recognizes the object, he taps the screen with his nose, and then moves towards the same object that has been placed nearby. As it performs this task, the dolphin makes various noises, and these sounds are recorded using the iPad's SignalScope app.

SignalScope isn't the only app that appeals to dolphins. Kassewitz has talked to other computer programmers who are on board to create even more apps that would be helpful in deciphering dolphin code. I wonder, once we figure out what they're saying - will they say "So long, and thanks for all the fish?"

Source: Red Orbit


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