Australian orangutans given touch-free technology

WE MIGHT share 97% of our DNA with them, but orangutans in Victoria now have something most of us humans don't have -- touch free tablets.

The primates have had access to other hand-held tablets before, but their strength means they are often broken unless they are kept in close supervision and protected.

Microsoft has dug out the technology it uses with the Xbox Kinect, which uses voice and body gestures to control the gaming console.

A screen will be projected for the orangutans to touch, akin to a classic touchscreen, but no devices would need to be within the primates' reach.

At the first testing Malu, Melbourne Zoo's twelve-year-old orang-utan didn't disappoint. Spying the projected red dot moving on the floor he immediately went over to it and kissed it.

Zoos Victoria's Animal Welfare Specialist Sally Sherwen said the zoo wanted the orangutans to be able to use the technology whenever they like.

"The findings from this research will be applied to other animals in zoos around the world."