After trying to communicate with dolphins using an iPad, Jack Kassewitz of SpeakDolphin to attempt talking with elephants

Update: The dolphins have spoken! In a fresh Flying Flashlight blog post, you can read all about the Toughbook being chosen as the device to use when attempting to bridge the communication gap between humans and our favorite ocean squeakers. Please continue reading if you’d like to learn about the researcher’s interest in chatting with not only dolphins, but elephants, too.

If Apple’s foray into the dolphin market was not enough, now the iPad is aiming at elephants with the continued assistance of a researcher looking into communication between humans and other species.

Jack Kassewitz said he wants to see this week if the iPad can get a good chit-chat going between the gray giants and folks curious about the insight other creatures might offer.

“I had a sense that elephants were a well-developed species,” he said in a phone interview with Flying Flashlight. “I want to go out there and see if they can manipulate an iPad with their trunk.”

Mr. Kassewitz recently announced (pdf) a similar project involving a dolphin’s beak that he said led to about 60 million hits on the SpeakDolphin Web site.

Stage one of that experiment is to get a dolphin to connect real-world objects to their matching image on the screen with a few taps of its rostrum. Just which screen has yet to be decided, however: A Panasonic Toughbook is also being considered for the task. Mr. Kassewitz said he won’t choose a final device until he heads into the water again in July.

“For me it’s about science,” he said. “It’s just what’s going to give me the best scientific results.”

Beyond the thrill of possibly communicating with another species, Mr. Kassewitz said that he hopes a successful connection would encourage better environmental stewardship of the planet, a goal he noted was cast into stark relief by BP’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

“Maybe by understanding that they have ‘sentient-ness,’ we might stop some of what we’re doing to this planet, realizing it’s not just ours,” he said. “This gift we have here – living on this wonderful planet – it’s really shared and we need to learn how to share better.”

Related goodies:

  1. How the oil spill threatens dolphins and other animals.
  2. The iPad Defender, the cover that Mr. Kassewitz uses to protect his iPad in the water.
  3. “Dolphin Contact,” music inspired by dolphins, which Mr. Kassewitz said is copyrighted in the dolphins’ names.
  4. Beepo at the Onion raised concerns about the Internet in your flippers.
  5. A YouTube video of elephants Mr. Kassewitz has worked with in the past.

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