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The APDS9960 is a specialize chip that detects hand gestures, proximity detection and ambient light color over I2C. Its available on Adafruit as a breakout.

Installation and Dependencies

This driver depends on:

Please ensure all dependencies are available on the CircuitPython filesystem. This is easily achieved by downloading the Adafruit library and driver bundle.

Installing from PyPI

On supported GNU/Linux systems like the Raspberry Pi, you can install the driver locally from PyPI. To install for current user:

pip3 install adafruit-circuitpython-apds9960

To install system-wide (this may be required in some cases):

sudo pip3 install adafruit-circuitpython-apds9960

To install in a virtual environment in your current project:

mkdir project-name && cd project-name
python3 -m venv .env
source .env/bin/activate
pip3 install adafruit-circuitpython-apds9960

Usage Example

Hardware Set-up

Connect Vin to 3.3 V or 5 V power source, GND to ground, SCL and SDA to the appropriate pins.


Of course, you must import i2c bus device, board pins, and the library:

from board import SCL, SDA, A1
from adafruit_apds9960.apds9960 import APDS9960
import busio
import digitalio

To set-up the device to gather data, initialize the I2CDevice using SCL and SDA pins. Then initialize the library. Optionally provide an interrupt pin for proximity detection.

int_pin = digitalio.DigitalInOut(A1)
i2c = busio.I2C(SCL, SDA)
apds = APDS9960(i2c, interrupt_pin=int_pin)


To get a gesture, see if a gesture is available first, then get the gesture Code

gesture = apds.gesture()
if gesture == 1:
if gesture == 2:
if gesture == 3:
if gesture == 4:

Color Measurement

To get a color measure, enable color measures, wait for color data, then get the color data.

apds.enable_color = True

while not apds.color_data_ready:

r, g, b, c = apds.color_data
print("r: {}, g: {}, b: {}, c: {}".format(r, g, b, c))

Proximity Detection

To check for a object in proximity, see if a gesture is available first, then get the gesture Code

apds.enable_proximity = True

# set the interrupt threshold to fire when proximity reading goes above 175
apds.proximity_interrupt_threshold = (0, 175)

# enable the proximity interrupt
apds.enable_proximity_interrupt = True

while True:
  if not interrupt_pin.value:

    # clear the interrupt


Contributions are welcome! Please read our Code of Conduct before contributing to help this project stay welcoming.

Building locally

To build this library locally you’ll need to install the circuitpython-travis-build-tools package.

Once installed, make sure you are in the virtual environment:

Then run the build:

Sphinx documentation

Sphinx is used to build the documentation based on rST files and comments in the code. First, install dependencies (feel free to reuse the virtual environment from above):

python3 -m venv .env
source .env/bin/activate
pip install Sphinx sphinx-rtd-theme

Now, once you have the virtual environment activated:

cd docs
sphinx-build -E -W -b html . _build/html

This will output the documentation to docs/_build/html. Open the index.html in your browser to view them. It will also (due to -W) error out on any warning like Travis will. This is a good way to locally verify it will pass.

Indices and tables