Doubling Down on Gesture Sensors

Doubling Down on Gesture Sensors

The APDS gesture sensor
A gesture sensor

A gesture sensor, from Adafruit. 

It was a shame: I really liked capacitive sensors, and had spent a few Tuesday nights at Cambridge Hackspace debugging a few of them so I could use them as a gateway interaction: Just "Touch X" to initiate an action.

Simple enough, right?

Now, inviting people to "touch the oak leaf" suddenly seemed like a dangerous request. 

But this was not their time -- especially early in the Coronavirus pandemic, when touching was considered a major infection vector. That faded a little after a few months, in favor of breathing in airborne molecules, but it never went completely away. 

Now, inviting people to "touch the oak leaf" suddenly seemed like a dangerous request. 

So I started converting everything to "touchless." 

My first enabler was the APDS gesture sensor

My three primary suppliers of APDS9960 chips: Adafruit, Sparkfun, and DFRobot. And then there's a fourth: AliExpress, which is a wild west of commodity chips, with stark price break, and a hugely long delivery period -- 30 days plus. 

I had already gotten one big project going with a Photon and the Adafruit APDS9960: the Gumball/Gachapon machines at Fab@CIC and District Hall. Both were working great, when the Coronavirus hit.

With one little design flaw: We originally created a little box, with an opening to expose the gesture sensor. Fine. The instructions say, "Wave your hand over the pink box." 

But people don't read the instructions. Many of them just put their fingers into the box and pressed down. Of course that works -- it's a pretty serious gesture -- but it's not ideal. 

We tried to cover the opening with something transparent. Didn't work. 

So we have to get back to that. 

We had also gotten going on an Arduino + APDS9960 combo. But the Coronavirus cut that project short: the Tuesday night open project nights, where/when we worked on it, evaporated when Cambridge Hackspace closed. And we were close

But in the meantime, this was an opportunity to expand my explorations of this chip. 

Fortunately, Adafruit, Sparkfun, and DFRobot all have extensive documentation. 

They also have libraries on Particle and Arduino platforms. And examples. Plenty to work with.  

Here it is at Amazon, below.

Full disclosure: This is an Amazon affiliate link, so Placemaking Report earns some fraction of the price if you buy it, and don't return it. 

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