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There’s an Ape for That

Mar 09, 2012

by Brom Hoban, TSSA Director of Communications

A new program at the Milwaukee County Zoo has allowed orangutans to use iPads. While it started as an “April fools” joke, the program is now legit, and the orangutans actually have their own favorite apps to use. Not surprisingly, they like the simple drawing program called DrawFree, and they've tried iFishPond, Flick Kick Football and really like the interactive book “The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore.”

Self-Storage“Orangutans are very tactile and their natural curiosity is perfect for a device like an iPad," one of the zoo,” said Scott Engel, the iPad Enrichment Coordinator at the zoo. “They are open to all types of enrichment and we think that the touchscreen 'games' will be really good for them — especially during the winter months in northern climates when they spend long periods of time indoors. Orangutans love painting with their fingers as well as brushes, and they seem to take quickly to using their fingers to paint on the touchscreen. We have a lot of different ideas we want to try with them and a lot of interest in the zoo community around the country."

My first thought on hearing about this developing story is that if the orangutans are not afraid to take a quantum leap into technology, we should not be either.

How often have you balked at learning new software or trying to do something online that you used to do over the phone with a person at the other end of the line?

I know I’m  guilty. For years I stuck with making airline reservations over the phone because I was comfortable with it, and thought I could get a better deal by having an “expert” search. Now I realize that I can beat the airline representatives online.

The speed of technology is accelerating even as I write this. In an essay titled “The Law of Accelerating Returns,” futurist  Ray Kurzweil states that, “An analysis of the history of technology shows that technological change is exponential, contrary to the common-sense “intuitive linear” view. So we won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century — it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate).

That’s quite astonishing. As a businessperson, you owe it to yourself to do your best to keep up. That doesn’t mean buying every new device and installing new software every other day. But it does mean trying new programs and occasionally taking the plunge with new hardware.

For self-storage owners, managers and operators, that could translate into:

Installing a remote-access security system
Coming up with a new website design
Updating  to the latest version of your management software and exploring the new feature
Using a “smart” device to check in and administer your facility from a remote location

Allocate some time each month to try something new. Sometimes, the only way to learn and keep up with changing technology is to step out of your comfort zone, take the plunge and dive in.

As Nike’s famous ad campaign says, “Just do it.”



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