ECE497 Project Gesture Based Control

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thumb‎ Embedded Linux Class by Mark A. Yoder

Team members: Jake Bellis

Grading Template

Draft Feedback

Good you see you are getting this started. Needs much more work.

I'm using the following template to grade. Each slot is 10 points. 0 = Missing, 5=OK, 10=Wow!

00 Executive Summary
00 Installation Instructions 
00 User Instructions
00 Highlights
00 Theory of Operation
00 Work Breakdown
00 Future Work
00 Conclusions
00 Demo
00 Late
Comments: I'm looking forward to seeing this.

Score:  10/100

(Inline Comment)

Executive Summary

This project is meant to use gesture control to perform various functions. The project can accurately detect gestures using the Sparkfun Breakout for the Avago APDS-9960. As of now, the gestures the project can sense are left, right, up, and down. These gestures are used to control an etch-a-sketch game on an 8x8 LED Matrix.


Both of these devices are connected to the second i2c bus on the beaglebone. SCL is on pin P9_20, SDA is on pin P9_19.

Installation Instructions

  • Install project from

Give step by step instructions on how to install your project.

  • Install Node Package Manager Packages
    • npm install i2c-bus
  • Set up Hardware on the beaglebone

There are no specific changes needed to the beaglebone black for this project to run.

User Instructions


  • Run the file with node.js
  • Swipe your hand over the sensor in any direction to draw in that direction.
    • The pixel adjacent to the current pixel will light up depending on the direction of the swipe
    • The sensor is not 100% accurate in this configuration so the direction will not be 100% accurate.
  • Restart the program to clear the matrix.


The project can control an Etch-a-Sketch game on the LED Matrix. Swiping in any direction will cause the corresponding LED on the matrix to light up. The purpose of this is to be able to draw a picture on the LED matrix without physically touching any hardware.

Include a YouTube demo.

Theory of Operation

The software uses an interrupt to detect whether a new gesture was received by the sensor. This is set up using the command registers of the APDS-9960. Once the sensor detects when an object is over the sensor for four integration cycles it generates an interrupt linking to the gesture sensing function. Once in this interrupt, it senses whether a new gesture is received. If a new gesture is received, the corresponding pixel on the LED Matrix will light up. The algorithm to detect gestures was based on an algorithm developed for an arduino by sparkfun.

Work Breakdown

Interfacing with the APDS-9960 - Jake Bellis

The only thing I am able to accomplish is detecting whether a hand was swiped left, right, up, or down over the sensor. This took a lot of work, as the two main i2c packages that I tried initially (Bonescript and i2c) did not set the command registers correctly. This problem was solved by switching to the i2c-bus package.

Controlling an Etch-a-Sketch Game - Jake Bellis

The gesture recognition software can control an Etch-a-Sketch game on an 8x8 LED Matrix adapted from previous exercises. A new pixel is drawn whenever a new gesture is sensed on by the gesture sensor.

Future Work

With the time constraints, I was only able to detect up, down, left, and right gestures. I would like to be able to detect more complex gestures in the future. Additionally, I would like to do more complex tasks with gesture control that were not implemented in this project. I would also like to make a game using gestures which would require more accurately sensing hand motions. One of the games that I thought would work well with the current hardware was the game snake. In addition to expanding the work of the current configuration, one of the things that I thought could be something to do would be to use gesture control to interact with certain elements of a server. This could be things like uploading and downloading data or choosing what elements to interact with on a webpage.


I am happy that I got gesture based control to work fairly well on the beaglebone black using the Avago APDS-9960. This was a complex sensor to use as there were many command registers on this device, and the settings are set up to work, however this is probably not the best configuration. With additional time, I would have spent more time updating the algorithm and command register values to sense the gestures more accurately. I would have liked to accomplish more on this project, but am satisfied with what I accomplished. I think that this project can lead to more work in the future with the gesture sensor.

thumb‎ Embedded Linux Class by Mark A. Yoder