The Lawn Defender – Animal Repellents

Late last month I received an email from a lovely man named Vernon Funnell who was currently building a technology prototype (dubbed Lawn Defender) to repel dogs and cats away from his neighbour’s lawn. After looking into technology within this category myself I soon realised that this area of pest control is rather large using all sorts of technology from lights and ultrasonic sounds to motion detectors and sprays.

Vernon however, has done something a bit different by combining social media giant twitter with this technology. What he has built is a small boxed device which senses movement from small animals (6m detection range), take their picture and tweets it to his twitter (@raspberyy_vf75) as well as then scaring the animal away using flashing blue lights and pre-recorded sound.  The device is built using a raspberry pi platform and PIR sensor for motion detection running from a self-contained battery box. The appliance also connects via LAN signal to allow it to be remotely controlled/configured and thus tweet. What I particularly adored about this project was its ability to monitor the animals within the garden in almost real time unlike previous devices which have just scared off the dog/cat. Instead of only knowing about the presence of an animal from the clues left behind, there is a picture trail that can be time lined. The problem Vernon’s neighbour faced with animals inadvertently trespassing is one I have come across frequently in the Animal Computer Interaction (ACI) field.

In November at NordiCHI’14 I met researcher Svein-Olaf Hvasshovd who was, on behalf of farmers, figuring out a way to stop wolverines eating the farmers’ sheep. His solution was to fit the sheep with electronic collars to shock the Wolverines when they bite the neck. Yellowstone Park has also faced problems with the reintroduction of Wolves breaching the boundaries onto local farmland. One experiment was to install large dishes that contained a speaker of pre-recorded wolves howling. A wolf will howl to mark its boundary. The ideology behind recording and playing these sounds is to fake another wolves packs presence to prevent Yellowstone wolves from breaking the parks boundary.

Technology to contain, monitor and prevent animal’s movements is surely to cultivate with the increase of technology use paired with human population. The interesting part of this form of machinery, like Vernon’s Lawn Defender has harnessed, is its ability to be integrated with current human technology.

Link to Vernon’s Lawn Defender Twitter: https://twitter.com/raspberry_vf75

Demo of Vernon’s Lawn Defender: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5PXvO1zMZM

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