Class 3: from the bird’s point
I’ve tried to make design choices based on
(what I understand of) the parrot’s point of
view. Rather than taking my evolution and prejudice
as a starting point, I’ve tried to think about
how the parrot would look at the keyboard.
I deliberately did not enclose the finished
keyboard because I wanted it to be open (without anything
for a predator to lurk behind).
The rods are 3/8" in diameter because
that is a good size for medium or large parrots to
grasp in their claw or beak.
The rods, although clearly man-made,
are reminiscent of branches. It is a natural action
for the bird to grasp a branch to test its weight-bearing
capability, or to bite on a branch to determine it
The rods are made of a polycarbonate
plastic (Lexan) because it has a warm, non-metallic
feel, and is hard enough to stand up to in-cage use.
It is also non-toxic.
I chose the switch that provided a small
click and change in feel at the point that a connection
is made to provide auditory and tactile feedback to
indicate that some action has occurred.
There are five keys because the research
clearly shows that parrots (among several animals)
can enumerate up to five.
A Lexan shield provides separation from
the in-cage environment and the aluminum and other
materials of the keyboard.
All surfaces exposed to the parrots
are Lexan or stainless steel, bird-safe materials.
In summary, I tried to make every important
decision about the design of the keyboard with respect
to the user of the keyboard—in this case, the
Basic cognitive principals
- Transfer effects
- Mental Models
(Norman, The Psychology of Everyday
Many, if not all, of the cognitive principles
that apply to interface design at least seem to make
sense when exploring a parrot keyboard. It would have
been wonderful to be able to carefully construct tests
based on these basic principals of Norman’s,
but that will have to wait for future presentations.
My paper addresses these topics in some
greater depth, and I would like to thank my advisor
Rosalie Bujarski for her encouragement to focus on
the usability of the keyboard from the bird’s
point of view.