Doubling Down on Gesture Sensors

Doubling Down on Gesture Sensors

The APDS gesture sensor
The APDS gesture sensor

After flirting with a capacitive sensor on some Mixed Reality rides, such as inviting people to "touch the oak leaf," that idea suddenly seemed like a dangerous request. 

So I started converting everything to "touchless." 

And my first enabler was the APDS gesture sensor. 

I had two platforms to use it with: Particle Photon and Arduino.

And 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. I'll have to check on them soon. I'll also document that project.

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. So many of them just put their fingers into the box and press down. Of course that works -- it's a pretty serious gesture -- but it's not ideal. Often the sensor chip get pressed down in the process. 

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. When I get a chance I'll document how far we got on that. 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. We'll start digging in next time.  

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