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Who says humans are the only iPad enthusiasts? Merlin, a two-year-old dolphin who resides at Dolphin Discovery in Puerto Aventuras, Mexico, is the latest fan of the gadget! But, while most consumers use it to browse the Internet, check e-mail or simply play games, the bottlenose dolphin may be the first, to utilize it as a learning tool.
Merlin was exposed to the device by his trainer, Jack Kassewitz, the president of Global Heart, who is spearheading Speak Dolphin, a project to expand communications between dolphins and humans.
After discovering that the iPad's touch sensitivity makes it easy for even non-human species to control the screen, Jack loaded it with some easy-to-use apps, made it dolphin-friendly by encasing it in a waterproof bag and presented it to Merlin. The curious dolphin that he is, Merlin responded eagerly, using his snout to navigate.
So far, the experiment has involved just playing a child-like matching game where Merlin is shown an image of an object like a duck or ball on the screen. If the dolphin recognizes it, he taps at the screen and then proceeds to find the actual object, which has been placed around him.
Once Merlin is able to execute perfectly, Jack hopes to introduce more complex apps that may even respond with dolphin like sounds. The eventual goal is to establish some kind of a language whereby these intelligent mammals can communicate effectively with humans.
However, the iPad is not the only device that Merlin is testing - He is playing similar games with the Panasonic Toughbook, which not only has a friendly interface, but is also tough enough to survive the dolphin's wet and salty home. Which do you think Merlin will prefer - iPad or Toughbook? Be sure to let me know by adding your comments below.
Sources: MSNBC.com, boingboing.net