The Parrot Keyboard
whole thing came about as a result of my getting
a Master's degree in computer science. I needed
a subject for my capstone project, and had a
sudden inspiration: Make a keyboard that would
allow the parrots to interact with a computer.
The parrots have always been vastly
interested in computers. They see me always
busy with them, and, naturally, they want to
play, too. When Mith, the African Grey Parrot,
walks on the table while I'm on the computer,
I have to pause every few minutes, to get him
off of the keyboard. The Blue & Gold Macaw,
Prospero, watchs with interest when changes
appear on the screen; they are particularly
interested when I surf bird-related sites, and
Prospero (who's always interested in food) takes
a keen interest when I'm looking through recipe
sites. ("Is it hot?" he wants to know.
"Mmmm. Good treat!" he'll remark.)
A human keyboard, however, is
just not designed for a bird to use. There are
too many keys, for starters, and the keyboard
is far too easy for a bird to disassemble. If
pushing a key doesn't produce any images of
interest, well, then, it's quite likely to be
So I set about designing a keyboard
for the birds, and a software program that would
provide them with images and sounds of interest
to them. This site contains the text and images
of my capstone presentation, which was quite
a hit, and far more interesting than most computer
science presentations are apt to be.
I looked on this project as a
means to an end: obtaining a computer science
degree by creating a research tool. And, no
doubt, the keyboard and software will be extremely
useful to that part of the academic community
interested in researching parrot behavior and
I also, however, immediately saw
the neatest parrot toy ever. So did the birds.
And when I have talked about the keyboard with
other parrot owners, there has been a great
deal of interest.
The Presentation links to the
left and below will tell you everything you
want to know about the process of inventing
the keyboard and the development of the software.
If you are not interested in the details of
the software, there is a link that will allow
you to skip ahead.
I have also tried to provide some
answers to some of the questions we have been
asked about the keyboard in use by Mith. Please
feel free to explore the site, and send me any
questions you may have. You can reach me at
Please note that this material
is not public domain; I am in the process of
applying for a patent, and all the material
on this site is copyrighted. I acknowledge with
thanks the images that others have been kind
enough to allow me to use; please note that
their images are also protected by copyright.
- John Fulton
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