Mastering Gesture Recognition with Raspberry Pi and APDS9960 Low-Cost Sensor

In the world of electronics and IoT, gesture recognition has emerged as a fascinating and practical technology. Whether it’s controlling your favorite gadgets with the wave of a hand or adding a touch of magic to your projects, gesture recognition sensors play a pivotal role. Among the numerous sensors available, the APDS9960 stands out as a versatile and widely used I2C sensor at a very affordable price. In this blog post, we will take you on a journey through the fascinating world of gesture recognition using the APDS9960 sensor on a Raspberry Pi and any of our popular add-on boards: ANAVI Infrared pHAT, ANAVI Light pHAT, ANAVI Gardening uHAT, ANAVI Info uHAT as well as ANAVI Miracle uHAT and ANAVI CO2 uHAT (both of which are in final development).

What is APDS9960?

APDS9960 is an I2C (Inter-Integrated Circuit) sensor produced by Broadcom (formerly Avago Technologies). It is known for its versatility and is commonly used for gesture recognition, proximity sensing, ambient light sensing, and color sensing applications. Gestures are detected at a distance of 10 to 20 cm. The sensor has built-in UV and IR filters for better recognition. Its wide range of applications makes it a favorite choice among electronics enthusiasts, engineers, and hobbyists. Ovewr the years APDS9960 has been integrated in many popular consumer electronic devices, including Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphone.

In this tutorial, we will explore how to set up gesture detection on a Raspberry Pi running the Raspberry Pi OS Linux distribution. Specifically, we will use the APDS9960 I2C sensor connected to a Raspberry Pi uHAT (add-on board) and a mini OLED SSD1306 I2C yellow-blue display.

BH1750 I2C light sensor attached to ANAVI CO2 uHAT and a Raspberry Pi single board computer running GNU Linux distribution

🔌 Hardware Setup

Both APDS9960 sensor and the mini yellow-blue SSD1306 OLED display rely on the serial communication protocol I2C that allows multiple electronic devices to communicate with each other using only two wires: serial data (SDA) and serial clock (SCL). Raspberry Pi single board computers have two different I2C busses. The primary I2C bus is at GPIO 2 (physical pin 3 for SDA) and GPIO3 (physical pin 6 for SCL). These pins should be used to attach APDS9960 and the mini OLED display to the Raspberry Pi. Also APDS9960 should be connected to 3.3V and GND pins of the Raspberry Pi to be powered. This makes 4 wires in total to attach the sensor. ANAVI HATs (Hardware Attached on Top) for Raspberry Pi offer dedicated slots for I2C sensors. On ANAVI Info uHAT and ANAVI CO2 uHAT there are even dedicated slots for the mini OLED display.

Of course the OLED display is optional and as an alternative we offer a simple command-line Python3 example for APDS9960 which can function without the OLED display.

🖥️ Software Setup

The software setup is straight forward: install Raspberry Pi OS on microSD card, boot your Raspberry Pi and enable I2C using raspi-config. More details are available in the user’s manual for our HATs.

🐍 Python3 Scripts

The heart of our demonstration are scripts written in the Python 3 programming language. We’ve tailored the script to work seamlessly with Raspberry Pi OS, but it should also run smoothly on any other GNU Linux distribution. These scripts rely on popular Python3 libraries like PIL and Luma OLED. You can find the source code on GitHub for reference and further experimentation:

There are two different Python 3 scripts to demonstrate APDS9960 gesture detection:

  • for detecting gestures and showing them on the mini OLED display as in the video
  • for detecting gesture and printing them in the command-line interface (use this one if don’t have a suitable mini OLED display)

👁️ Real-Time Gesture Detection

Experience the magic as the APDS9960 sensor detects your hand movements, including swipes, taps, and more. Witness how your Raspberry Pi interprets and responds to these gestures in real-time, opening up a world of interactive possibilities. The video provides insights into potential issues you might face during setup and offers practical tips to ensure a seamless experience.

🎓 Conclusion

APDS9960 sensor and Raspberry Pi combination offer a compelling glimpse into the exciting world of gesture-based interaction. Instead of using a breadboard and multiple wires it is always easier to rely on one of our add-on boards like ANAVI Infrared pHAT, ANAVI Light pHAT, ANAVI Gardening uHAT, ANAVI Info uHAT, ANAVI Miracle uHAT and ANAVI CO2 uHAT.

So, if you are ready to embark on this exciting journey into gesture recognition technology, grab your Raspberry Pi, APDS9960 sensor, and let’s get started!

You may also like

ANAVI Gas Detector Assembly Guide

ANAVI Gas Detector is an ESP8266-powered, open source, Wi-Fi development board for monitoring air quality and detecting dangerous gases. After a very successful crowdfunding campaign at Crowd Supply we are manufacturing a batch of units in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. All kits of ANAVI Gas Detector also include MQ-135 sensor module, USB to UART debug cable, an acrylic stand and a mini OLED I2C display. In this article you will learn how to get started and assemble all parts in about 10 minutes.

The printed circuit board of ANAVI Gas Detector has the same dimensions as the one for my other open source product ANAVI Thermometer so actually both use the same laser cut acrylic stand. Both ANAVI Gas Detector and ANAVI Thermometer have been designed using the open source software KiCAD. The open source software OpenSCAD was used to design the case.

ANAVI Gas Detector Developer Kit

In this article you will learn the exact steps how to assembly ANAVI Gas Detector Starter Kit. The procedure is the pretty much the same for Advanced and Developer kits, however they including additional I2C sensor modules. Appropriate nuts, screws and washers are included in all kits.

Getting started with ANAVI Gas Detector Starter Kit

Step 1

Peel off the protective film from the acrylic stand. Also remove the protective film from the display.

Step 2

Mounting the mini OLED display to the acrylic stand

Using a screwdriver, gently attach the mini OLED display to the acrylic stand with the M2 screws and nuts as shown on the photo. The mini OLED display is fragile so please be very careful. Do NOT fasten it too tight because the torque may break it.

Step 3

Add four M2.5 screws and nuts to the case of the acrylic stand. In the next step we will put ANAVI Gas Detector on top of the nuts.

Step 4

Add ANAVI Gas Detector on top of the nuts and fasten it with the additional M2.5 nuts. At the end you will have a spare M2.5 screw and nut to optionally attach an additional sensor to the acrylic enclosure.

Step 5

Connect the mini I2c OLED display to the dedicated slot for it on ANAVI Gas Detector

Gently connect the mini OLED display to the dedicated slot using the male to female jumper wires. The colors of the wires do not matter. Just have a look at the labels on the top of the OLED display and connect each of the four pins to a pin with the same label on the dedicated slot for the display on ANAVI Gas Detector.

Add the MQ-135 sensor module for monitoring air quality

Plug the MQ-135 sensor module in slot labeled as MQ. Owners of Advanced or Developer kit should also plug the additional I2C sensor modules.

Finally, you are ready to turn on and enjoy ANAVI Gas Detector!

On first boot you need to calibrate MQ-135 and configure and connect ANAVI Gas Detector to your WiFi network.

The so called “burn-in” procedure for initial calibration of MQ-135 is important to be done on first boot. Despite its fancy name it is actually quite easy. Just place ANAVI Gas Detector with MQ-135 sensor module in a room with clean air and leave it running for at least 24 hours. This has to be done only once when MQ-135 sensor module is used for the first time. After doing this procedure, on every next boot ANAVI Gas Detector and MQ-135 will do a quick calibration in couple of minutes and start working properly.

We have also published this tutorial as an update at Crowd Supply to notify all backers of ANAVI Gas Detector. The whole user’s manual for ANAVI Gas Detector is available at GitHub. This is an entirely open source project so as usual ideas for improvements and bug fixes are always welcome!

You may also like

How to Use Mini Monochrome OLED I2C Displays (SSD1306)?

Mini monochrome OLED I2C displays are cheap, reliable and easy to use by makers. They come in a huge variety of sizes. Our open source hardware Internet of Things, like ANAVI Thermometer and ANAVI Gas Detector, support this type of display and all kits include a particular yellow-blue model that is a bit below 1”. The display has 4 mounting holes. The screen resolution is 128×64 pixels. The driver is SSD1306. You can find exactly the same type of display with only white OLED pixels. The usage is the same no matter what is the color of the OLED pixels.

ANAVI Thermomter with yellow-blue mini OLED I2C display

In this video tutorial you will learn the exact steps how to get started with I2C OLED mini display with about 1” diagonal on Arduino compatible board such as our ANAVI Thermometer. ANAVI Thermomter is an ESP8266-powered, open source, Wi-Fi dev board with temperature and humidity sensors.

Continue reading “How to Use Mini Monochrome OLED I2C Displays (SSD1306)?”

You may also like