View the Project on GitHub svonhauske/Interaction-Design-in-The-Wild

28 April 2019

Final Project: Presentation

by Sofia von Hauske Valtierra

Luncher: An Enrichment Device

Final 512

Luncher is inspired by the way in which foxes hunt insects. It plays a low-frequency sound to try to attract the fox. If the fox is able to pinpoint its location and gets close enough to the device, it shoots a treat up into the air, imitating an insect trying to fly away.

Luncher is a portable device that can be placed anywhere in the zoo, hidden amongst plants or grass.

Vulpes vulpes:


Vulpes vulpes, more commonly known as Red Foxes, are members of the Canidae family.


They eat a variety of food, sometimes changing their diet from season to season. They are considered opportunistic feeders who will feed based on availability. Their diets usually include small rodents, rabbits, hare, insects, wild fruits and berries. Foxes are great at scavenging, hunting and caching. They carefully hide food for future use by burying it underground and disguising the spot with leaves and twigs. They will sometimes relocate their provisions.

Red foxes are the smallest members of the dog family, but the largest species of foxes.


Red Foxes are predators of small prey; these animals are high-strung and have quick reactions, which means that foxes have to stalk their prey quietly to be able to catch them. A fox’s hearing is very sensitive to lower frequencies, frequencies that correspond to rustling and gnawing sounds of small animals. They are capable of locating sounds within inches of their exact location.


Types of prey:

J. David Henry groups the types of animals Red Foxes eat, into 4 main groups:

The techniques that foxes use to hunts these types of prey is also different, each one unique to the prey and the circumstances.

Hunting Techniques:


Hunting insects is something that foxes do more casually because insects have weak escape behaviors, and they only provide the fox with a small amount of food. Usually, foxes are doing something else, and they hear an insect, and they simply walk over and bite down. When insects hop or fly away, they use their muzzle to poke around, stamp one of its forefeet, or do something called foot stamping. These movements causes insects to move, and then the fox is able to locate them by the sound of rustling or movement.


Citations from Research

_“It is interesting to compare how successful the foxes were at catching various prey. In the hunts I observed, the foxes […] caught insects 82% of the time (77 out of 94 hunts). These differences in success rate are explained by the effectiveness with which the prey escaped. For example, grasshoppers and crickets, the insects hunted most by the foxes, showed feckless escape behaviors. If the foxed missed one of these prey, the insect often hopped only one or two strides away; the fox watched where it landed and was often able to relocate and capture it.” (Henry, Page 63)

“[…] foxes usually hunt insects during another activity; that is, they seldom show searching behavior specifically toward insects. In my study area, insects seem to represent snack food that foxes capture along the way. […] When this opportunity knocks, the fox stops the activity it is engaged in, walks over, bites down, and chews up the grasshoppers, cricket or beetle. […] Sometimes the fox misses in its initial capture attempt, watches where the insect lands, and searches for it by poking its muzzle into shrubs or stamping one of its forefeet on the forest floor where it expects the insect to be.” (Henry, Page 65)

“Usually a fox is traveling along, scavenging, cleaning out a den, or doing some other activity when it happens to detect an insect in nearby grasses or in the leaves on the forest floor. Then the fox stops what it is doing, walks over, bites down and chews up the prey. Many times it is as simple as that. On other occasions, however, the insect hops or flies away, and the fox must search for it by poking its muzzle into shrubs or stamping one of its forefeet on the forest floor where it suspects the insect might be. After prodding the insect to move, the fox tries to locate it from small movements or rustling sounds. David Macdonald in Great Britain reports red foxes using foot stamping when they are hunting earthworms […].” (Henry Page 65)

“Insect remains were found in one hundred and fifty-one, or 64.8 percent of the den droppings, a much higher frequency than in those in the trail during May or June. It seems likely that the fox pups supply the insect portion of the diet by their own efforts. The beetles probably furnish both play and food to the pups as well as good hunting experience. Catching beetles no doubt develops in the young foxes judgment of distance, pouncing precision, sound localization, and other hunting qualities of value to a fox.” (Murie, Page 32)


Previous enrichment testing:

Feeding enrichment in an opportunistic carnivore: The red fox

Claudia Kistler, Daniel Hegglin, Hanno Würbel, Barbara König

They compared four different methods of feeding enrichment that were based on natural foraging strategies of opportunistic carnivores, red foxes. The feeding enrichments consisted of electronic feeders delivering food (unpredictable in time); these were successively combined with one of the three additional treatments: a self-service food box, manually scattering food (unpredictable in space), and an electronic dispenser delivering food unpredictably both in space and time.

All four feeding enrichments significantly enhanced individual behavioral diversity and activity compared to a conventional feeding treatment. The proportion of food-related behaviors, such as food searching or food acquiring, increased the most during the feeding treatment with the highest spatial and temporal unpredictability. There was also an increase in exploratory behaviors, such as locomotion and monitoring behavior. The findings show that any temporal and/or spatial unpredictability in the presentation of food has a stimulating effect on the foxes’ behavior.

Other Enrichment Used at The Zoo



Screen Shot 2019-04-16 at 7 52 28 AM



Initial Sketch


First Iteration


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Final 152

Dispensing Mechanism:

Final 153



Second Iteration


Final 154

Final 155

Final 156

Final 157



First Prototype




Second Prototype




Third Iteration


Final 500

Final 501

Final 504

Final 502

Final 503

Dispensing Mechanism:

Final 506



Fourth Iteration


Final 513

Final 512

Final 511

Final 514

Third Prototype





HDPE - High-Density Polyethylene:


Different shades of brown or green so it blends in with the environment.






- Zookeper: Activates the low-frequency sound through Bluetooth.

- Fox: Hears the sound and tries to pin-point its location.

- Device: Waits for movement.

- Fox: Approaches device with either muzzle or by stamping close by.

- Device: Detects movement, dispenses treat and launches it into the air like a flying insect.

- Fox: Catches treat.

Final Prototype


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// Final Final Final

#include <SoftwareSerial.h>

#include "pitches.h"

#include <Wire.h>
#include <Adafruit_PWMServoDriver.h>
Adafruit_PWMServoDriver pwm = Adafruit_PWMServoDriver();

#define SERVOMIN  120 // this is the 'minimum' pulse length count (out of 4096)
#define SERVOMAX  610 

const int dispenser = 0;
int push = map(150, 0, 180, SERVOMIN, SERVOMAX);
int pull = map(0, 0, 180, SERVOMIN, SERVOMAX);

const int arm = 1;
int stretch = map(115, 0, 180, SERVOMIN, SERVOMAX);
int relax = map(160, 0, 180, SERVOMIN, SERVOMAX);

const int latch = 2;  
int lock = map(100, 0, 180, SERVOMIN, SERVOMAX);
int unlock = map(160, 0, 180, SERVOMIN, SERVOMAX);

const int sensor = 9;
int state = 0;
int val;

int ledPin = 13;

String readString;

void setup() 
  pinMode(sensor, INPUT); 
  pinMode(ledPin, OUTPUT); 
  pwm.setPWM(dispenser, 0, pull); 
  pwm.setPWM(arm, 0, relax);
  pwm.setPWM(latch, 0, lock); 
void loop() 
  while (Serial.available()) 
      char c =;
      readString += c; 
  if (readString.length() > 0) 
      if (readString == "on")     
          tone(8, NOTE_C4, 1000);
          state = 1;
      if (readString == "off")
          digitalWrite(ledPin, LOW);
          state = 0;
      readString = "";

  if (state == 1)
     val = digitalRead(sensor);
     if (val == 1)
          digitalWrite(ledPin, HIGH);
          pwm.setPWM(latch, 0, lock); 
          pwm.setPWM(dispenser, 0, push); 
          pwm.setPWM(dispenser, 0, pull); 
          pwm.setPWM(arm, 0, stretch); 
          pwm.setPWM(latch, 0, unlock); 
          pwm.setPWM(arm, 0, relax);
          pwm.setPWM(latch, 0, lock); 
          state = 0;


Next Steps


511pFArnI2L _SX258_BO1,204,203,200_


51YBMrpOGgL _SX380_BO1,204,203,200_

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