My doctoral research project examines 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 unique context of the zoo has previously been little studied.

Kinecting with Orangutans

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 also reflects on the process of interaction design with and for zoo animals, and the tensions around creating enrichment appropriate for non-human species.

Read more: www.socialnui.unimelb.edu.au/research/zoos

Watch the technology in action: youtu.be/pWrUsgUWvew

Kinecting with Orangutans: Zoo Visitors’ Empathetic Responses to Animals’ Use of Interactive Technology. Sarah Webber, Marcus Carter, Sally Sherwen, Wally Smith, Zaher Joukhader, Frank Vetere. ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 2017.
Best Paper Award [DOI:10.1145/3025453.3025729] [Free Access]

Digital Technology and the Zoo Visit

As part of my PhD research I am exploring how digital technologies are being used in zoos, and how this relates to animal welfare and the visitor experience.

Kinecting with Orangutans: Zoo Visitors’ Empathetic Responses to Animals’ Use of Interactive Technology. Sarah Webber, Marcus Carter, Sally Sherwen, Wally Smith, Zaher Joukhader, Frank Vetere. ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, 2017.
Best Paper Award [DOI:10.1145/3025453.3025729]

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

http://www.zootech.info/chi16-workshop 


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 experiment.com. 

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

http://www.zoojam.org 


In the News

The Age: Culture Vultures at the Zoo, 28 May 2016.
http://www.pressreader.com/australia/the-age/20160528/283811442902960

Sunrise on Seven, 10 February 2016.
https://au.tv.yahoo.com/sunrise/video/watch/30780306/orangutans-taught-to-play-video-games/#page1 

SBS Online, 9 February 2016.
http://www.sbs.com.au/news/video/619127875646/Melbourne-Zoo-tests-orangutans-with-computer-games 

Channel Seven, 9 February 2016.
https://au.news.yahoo.com/video/watch/30771396/primates-learning-with-video-games/#page1

Nine News, 10 February 2016.
http://www.9news.com.au/national/2016/02/09/19/18/tech-savvy-orangutans-master-computer-games-at-melbourne-zoo 

Huffington Post, 4 February 2016.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/orangutans-play-video-games_us_56b23afce4b04f9b57d8111f 

ABC 774 Drive, 3 February 2016.
http://radio.abc.net.au/programitem/pey3x11obQ?play=true (at 2hrs 48mins) 

The Project, Channel Ten, 3 February 2016.
http://tenplay.com.au/channel-ten/the-project/extra/season-7/gaming-orangutans 

ABC Online, 3 February 2016.
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-03/orangutans-in-melbourne-zoo-playing-computer-games/7136478 

The Age Newspaper, 1 February 2016.
http://www.theage.com.au/technology/sci-tech/experiment-has-zoos-orangutans-seeing-red-20160201-gmitu0.html 

Pursuit, 1 February 2016.
https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/articles/kinecting-with-the-orang-utans