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Peach and iMac

There is variation in the design and purposes of the different apps/games we are creating. They fall loosely into three categories:

  1. functional
  2. challenge, learning, games
  3. exploration, enjoyment

Functional software is simple, and intended to accomplish a specific task, such as giving a parrot a way to indicate yes or no to a human. "Simple Yes or No" is an example of this type of an app. It does not have value beyond its direct purpose, communicating the answer to a query from a human.

Software designed to present a mental challenge is goal oriented and may or may not need a lot of instruction and training from the human. Most software that is called a game will fall into this category. It will have specific responses that are expected from the parrot in order to complete a task, or move to a higher level of complexity. "Target Ladybugs!" is an example of this, although intentionally not one with a high level of difficulty. Other releases and concepts will present different challenges and learning experiences.

The third category is software that is intended to be entirely for the enjoyment of the parrot (and hopefully also their companion human). These apps are what we will often call "digital experiences" since they are exploratory and not necessarily goal oriented. While they may involve learning how to use them they are designed for intrinsic enjoyment. We believe that parrots are motivated by sensory experiences: visual and auditory stimulus that they like. There's plenty of anecdotal evidence of this in the way that people share information on their birds' preferences in colors, textures, shapes, and sounds. Our expectation is that parrots are motivated to interact with this type of software because it is engaging and interesting for them, and they won't need to be rewarded in other ways since the experience is rewarding in itself. The "Touch Gallery" series is informed by this philosophy. The artwork used may have some similarities to objects in the real world, but all of the editions will be essentially abstract. It was inspired in part by observation of cockatoos carefully observing and exploring visual art and responding to music. Many parrots exhibit preferences that can not be explained by strictly biological motivations since they have no direct relationship to sustenance or reproduction.

We are very interested in seeing how these different ideas get refined through interactions between parrots and our software, and we are looking to develop some ways that this valuable data can be collected. It's all very interesting in what it reveals about the capabilities and potential of parrots.