My PhD research examined the role of interactive and digital technologies at the zoo. Though other informal learning institutions, such as museums, are a popular site for HCI research, the zoo setting has been little studied as a site of technology use.

Kinecting with Orangutans: Designing Digital Enrichment

In conjunction with Zoos Victoria, we are investigating the potential effects of digital enrichment for animals, and digitally-mediated encounters between zoo animals and visitors, through the design and study of an interactive installation for orangutans at Melbourne Zoo. This work examines how we can design technology for non-humans, and the challenges of creating digital enrichment for animals.

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Watch the installation in action:

Kinecting with Orangutans: Zoo Visitors’ Empathetic Responses to Animals’ Use of InteractiveTechnology 
Sarah Webber, Marcus Carter, Sally Sherwen, Wally Smith, Zaher Joukhader, Frank Vetere

ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 2017.
Best Paper [DOI:10.1145/3025453.3025729] [Free Access]

Digital Technology and the Zoo Visit

My PhD research explored how digital technologies are being used in zoos, and how this relates to animal welfare and the visitor experience.

Interactive Technology and Human-Animal Encounters at the Zoo. Sarah Webber, Marcus Carter, Wally Smith, and Frank Vetere. International Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 2016. [DOI: 10.1016/j.ijhcs.2016.05.003] [Free Access]

Naturalism and ACI: Augmenting Zoo Enclosures with Digital Technology. Marcus Carter, Sarah Webber, and Sally Sherwen. 2015. Proceedings of the The Second International Congress on Animal Computer Interaction, ACM.[DOI: 10.1145/2832932.2837011] [Free Access]

Cross-Disciplinary Perspectives on Animal Welfare Science and Animal-Computer Interaction. Jean-Loup Rault, Sarah Webber, and Marcus Carter. 2015. Proceedings of the Second International Congress on Animal Computer Interaction, ACM. [DOI: 10.1145/2832932.2837014] [Free Access]

Zoo Technology Research Group

To support researchers and practitioners working on the design and study of interactive technologies in zoos, we are establishing the Zoo Technology Research Group. If you would like to know more, or to participate in this group, please get in touch. 

HCI Goes to the Zoo. CHI 2016 

This workshop was conducted held as as part of CHI 2016 in May 2016, and was preceded by a visit to San Francisco Zoo, hosted by Jason Watters and Bethany Krebs. Participants included researchers in human-computer interaction, zoo professionals and respected specialists in animal welfare science. Papers covered a broad range of topics and resulted in a far-ranging and highly stimulating discussion. 

HCI Goes to the Zoo: Workshop Proposal. Sarah Webber, Marcus Carter, Jason Watters, Bethany Krebs, Sally Sherwen, Clara Mancini, Fiona French, Kenton O'Hara, Fiona French. 2016. CHI EA '16 Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems. [DOI: 10.1145/2851581.2856485] [Free Access 

Don't Cut to the Chase: Hunting Enrichment for Zoo Animals and Visitors. ACI 2016 

This workshop offered an opportunity for zoo professionals and researchers to collaborate on the design of novel enrichment for zoo-housed animals and corresponding activities to enhance the visitor experience. Participants developed three sets of design briefs to enrich sea-lions, penguins and big cats. We are planning to take these forward as real prototypes to evaluate with their respective species. Please visit our fundraising site on 

Don’t Cut to the Chase: Hunting Experiences for Zoo Animals and Visitors. Fiona French, Mark Kingston-Jones, David Schaller, Sarah Webber, Heli Väätäjä, Mark Campbell. 2016. ACI '16 Proceedings of the Third International Conference on Animal-Computer Interaction, Article No. 19 [DOI:10.1145/2995257.3014066] [Free Access 

In the News

The Age: Culture Vultures at the Zoo, 28 May 2016.

Sunrise on Seven, 10 February 2016. 

SBS Online, 9 February 2016. 

Channel Seven, 9 February 2016.

Nine News, 10 February 2016. 

Huffington Post, 4 February 2016. 

ABC 774 Drive, 3 February 2016. (at 2hrs 48mins) 

The Project, Channel Ten, 3 February 2016. 

ABC Online, 3 February 2016. 

The Age Newspaper, 1 February 2016. 

Pursuit, 1 February 2016.