APDS-9960 Specifications and Applications

Automation is being applied for many applications to make tasks easier, boost efficiency, and reliability. With the advance in technology, this is applied in smartphone to increase the end-user experience. In electronics, sensors are very useful to achieve automation functions. Some of such sensors are Touch sensor, proximity sensor, gyroscope sensor, gesture detection sensor, etc… As the size of the devices is optimized, it may not be possible to integrate all of these sensors on a single chip. This problem can be solved by using multipurpose sensors. These multipurpose sensors have more than one type of sensing element and can sense multiple factors. APDS-9960 is one of such multipurpose sensors that can detect proximity, color, etc….

What is APDS-9960?

APDS-9960 is a digital Proximity, Gesture, and Ambient light sensor. It is a multipurpose sensor. It is used in various smartphones, robotics, etc… to detect gesture, ambient light, and proximity. This sensor gives accurate values for gesture detection.

Block Diagram


APDS-9960 device has Proximity sensing engine, Ambient light sensing engine, RGB color sensing engine, and gesture detection module. APDS-9960 is easy to interface with any microcontroller because it uses the I2C communication protocol.

This device has an LED which acts as a source for IR signal. When there is an obstacle or any gesture performed in front of the device, the IR signal generated by the LED or reflected back from the surface of the obstacle. This reflected light is sensed by the photodiodes present on APDS-9960. Based on the properties on this reflected light, factors such as ambient light intensity, the proximity of the object and gesture can be determined.

Circuit Diagram

While using proximity sensing system the internal LED can be pulsed with rapidly switching currents which are greater than 100mA, causing an error. To avoid this certain precautions has to be considered while connecting APDS-9960.

While using APDS-9960 in a circuit, by connecting the quite analog supply to VDD and the noisy supply to the LED, power supply noise coupled back into the device during the LED pulses can be reduced.

To supply the current surge, a 1-μF low ESR- decoupling capacitor is placed as close as possible to the VDD pin. At the output of the LED voltage regulator, a bulk storage capacitor and another decoupling capacitor at LEDA pin are placed.

A 22Ω resistor is used in series with a VDD supply line while operating APDS-9960 from a single supply. To filter the power supply noise, a 1- μF low ESR capacitor is used.

Pin Description


APDS-9960 is available is 8 pin package. Pin description of different Pins of APDS-9960 is given below-

  • Pin-1, SDA, is an I2C serial data terminal. This pin is used for I2C communication.
  • Pin-2, INT, is the interrupt pin. This pin is active low during interrupt events.
  • Pin 3, LDR, is the LED driver input pin. This pin is used as an LED driver input for proximity LED. It connects a constant power source for LED drivers.
  • Pin 4, LEDK, is the LED cathode pin. When using the internal LED driver circuit, this pin is connected to LDR pin.
  • Pin 5, LEDA, is the LED anode pin. This pin is connected to VLEDA on PCB.
  • Pin 6, GND, is the power supply ground pin.
  • Pin 7, SCL, is the I2C serial clock input terminal pin. This pin is used to provide a clock signal for I2C serial data.
  • Pin 8, VDD, is the power supply pin. Supply voltage of 2.4V to 3.6V can be applied.

Specifications of APDS9960

Specifications of APDS-9960 device are given below-

  • This device features ambient light sensing, proximity sensing, RGB color sensing and gesture detection in an Optical Module.
  • For drop-in compatibility with existing footprints, IR LED and a factory calibrated LED driver is incorporated.
  • UR and IR blocking filters are present for ambient light sensing and RGB color sensing.
  • Ambient light sensing and RGB color sensing also has a programmable gain and integration time.
  • Red, Blue, Green, and clear light intensity data is provided by RGB color sensing.
  • This device is also suitable for operations behind dark glass due to its very high sensitivity.
  • To compensate for the system offset caused due to unwanted IR reflections, Proximity engine contains offset adjustment registers.
  • In the proximity engine, the IR LED intensity is factory trimmed. This eliminates the need for end equipment calibration due to component variations.
  • Automatic ambient light subtraction further improves the results of Proximity engine.
  • Proximity engine also contains a saturation indicator bit.
  • To sense reflected IR energy from all directions, Gesture detection engine has four separate photodiodes sensitive to a different direction.
  • Gesture detection engine also has an automatic activation, Ambient light subtraction, cross-talk cancellation, dual 8-bit data converters, power-saving interconversion delay, 32- dataset FIFO, and Interrupt driven I2C communication.
  • Gesture detection engine also has a programmable driver for IR LED current.
  • APDS-9960 contains I2C bus fast mode compatible interface with data rates up to 400kHz.
  • Dedicated interrupt pin is given for I2C communication.
  • APDS-9960 is available as a small package with dimensions 3.94×2.36×1.35 mm.
  • APDS-9960 is available in the market as a tape-and-reel package.
  • This device works on a maximum of 3.8V of the supply voltage.
  • Storage temperature range of APDS-9960 is from -40°C to 85°C.
  • Maximum LED supply voltage of APDS-9960 is 4.5V.
  • APDS-9960 device supports 7-bit I2C bus addressing protocol.

Applications of APDS-9960

Some of the applications of this device are as follows-

  • The different functions provided by APDS-9960 are Ambient light sensing, Gesture detection, RGB color sensing, and Proximity sensing
  • APDS-9960 is used in Touch screens of smartphones.
  • For Mechanical switch replacement, this device is used.
  • To calculate the color temperature, RGB sensing of APDS-9960 is used.
  • For Adjustment of the backlight of TV, smartphones, etc…proximity sensing engine of APDS-9960 device is used.
  • Gesture robotics also make use of different sensing engines present in this device.
  • In medical equipment.
  • LCD Displays.
  • RGB monitors and for RGB rating APDS-9960 is used.

Alternative IC of APDS-9960

APDS-9960 device is available as an 8-pin package. Some of the other devices available in the market that can be used as an alternative for this device are GY- 7620 and IC’s that can be used as an alternative for proximity sensing are VL53LOX, TCRT5000.

Further electrical characteristics of APDS-9960 can be found in its datasheet. For sensing which of the physical factor have you used APDS-9960?