Dolphins Can Now Use the iPad

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Apple's relentless quest for total brand domination has hit a new level. The tech company's new gadget, the iPad, is now being used across a multiple-species audience. Apple can thank Jack Kassewitz, a behavioral scientist who studies dolphin communication, for test-marketing the iPad with his research subjects. Kassewitz is exploring ways to facilitate direct dolphin-human communication as a way to further his research into how dolphins form language. Ars Technica's Chris Foresman reports:

Kassewitz searched for nearly two years to find a touchscreen device that dolphins could reliably activate with their rostrum (or beak), while still being powerful enough to record or play back the high frequency sounds associated with dolphin language and durable enough to work in underwater environments. He had originally settled on the Panasonic Toughbook, but recently began evaluating the iPad as an alternative.

The iPad is suited to Kassewitz's research in a number of ways. "It's small and lightweight," Kassewitz told Ars. "It's very forgiving. For example, if I turn it the 'wrong' way, it turns itself back the 'right' way. And the iPhone OS system is fast—more than fast enough for my use."

Kassewitz is currently using a sealable bag that protects the iPad underwater to depths of a few feet, though he is also working with Otterbox to make something more robust and with better anti-glare capabilities to make it easier for the dolphins to see the screen. Bluetooth allows him to connect to speakers to "hear" the underwater dolphin speech, and he can view a spectrograph of the sounds on the iPad's screen.

Foresman says that Kassewitz has designed special iPad "games" meant to teach a rudimentary symbolic language to the dolphins. It's now only a matter of time until Apple CEO Steve Jobs throws on his trusty black turtleneck to announce the exciting new line of dolphin-targeted products, such as an app to save and replay your favorite sonar clicks and the long-anticipated iMackerel.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.