The Parrot Keyboard

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What I planned to do

Now why, you might ask, in a computer science capstone presentation, have I just talked for 2 minutes about parrots?

The idea that I had was to develop a hardware and software package that would provide the mechanism for my parrots to be able to interact with a computer outside of the cage. In short, I wanted to develop a parrot keyboard.

I wanted to introduce the birds to a simple interface and then increase the complexity as I learned more about how the birds actually made use of the system.

Computer near cage
Computer monitor outside parrot’s cage

I wanted to develop a software framework that would support a variety of types of interaction and would provide for the logging and data capture to be able to do analysis on the interactions of the parrot with the keyboard.

What work has been done in the past?

Only a limited amount of work for non-human interactions with computers has been done in the previously, mostly centering on testing for understanding.

used by permission

Experimenters with dolphins have used touch-plates with lights and buzzers in the water and rewarded appropriate behavior.

Pygmy Chimps
used by permission

Experimenters with pigmy chimps and small apes have used symbolic touch-boards much like those used with children and adults with multiple handicaps

Irene Pepperberg, working at the MIT MEDIA Lab, developed a simple 2-key keyboard for parrots; but it was intended for use only as a part of experimentation and training, and could only be used by the bird outside of the cage.

Pepperbeg keyboard
used by permission

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