Sensors

The sensor subsystem exposes an API to uniformly access sensor devices. Common operations are: reading data and executing code when specific conditions are met.

Basic Operation

Channels

Fundamentally, a channel is a quantity that a sensor device can measure.

Sensors can have multiple channels, either to represent different axes of the same physical property (e.g. acceleration); or because they can measure different properties altogether (ambient temperature, pressure and humidity). Complex sensors cover both cases, so a single device can expose three acceleration channels and a temperature one.

It is imperative that all sensors that support a given channel express results in the same unit of measurement. Consult the API Reference for all supported channels, along with their description and units of measurement:

Values

Sensor devices return results as struct sensor_value. This representation avoids use of floating point values as they may not be supported on certain setups.

Fetching Values

Getting a reading from a sensor requires two operations. First, an application instructs the driver to fetch a sample of all its channels. Then, individual channels may be read. In the case of channels with multiple axes, they can be read in a single operation by supplying the corresponding _XYZ channel type and a buffer of 3 struct sensor_value objects. This approach ensures consistency of channels between reads and efficiency of communication by issuing a single transaction on the underlying bus.

Below is an example illustrating the usage of the BME280 sensor, which measures ambient temperature and atmospheric pressure. Note that sensor_sample_fetch() is only called once, as it reads and compensates data for both channels.

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{
	struct device *dev = device_get_binding("BME280");

	if (dev == NULL) {
		printk("Could not get BME280 device\n");
		return;
	}

	printk("dev %p name %s\n", dev, dev->config->name);

	while (1) {
		struct sensor_value temp, press, humidity;

		sensor_sample_fetch(dev);
		sensor_channel_get(dev, SENSOR_CHAN_AMBIENT_TEMP, &temp);
		sensor_channel_get(dev, SENSOR_CHAN_PRESS, &press);
		sensor_channel_get(dev, SENSOR_CHAN_HUMIDITY, &humidity);

		printk("temp: %d.%06d; press: %d.%06d; humidity: %d.%06d\n",
		      temp.val1, temp.val2, press.val1, press.val2,
		      humidity.val1, humidity.val2);

		k_sleep(1000);
	}
}

The example assumes that the returned values have type struct sensor_value, which is the case for BME280. A real application supporting multiple sensors should inspect the type field of the temp and press values and use the other fields of the structure accordingly.

Configuration and Attributes

Setting the communication bus and address is considered the most basic configuration for sensor devices. This setting is done at compile time, via the configuration menu. If the sensor supports interrupts, the interrupt lines and triggering parameters described below are also configured at compile time.

Alongside these communication parameters, sensor chips typically expose multiple parameters that control the accuracy and frequency of measurement. In compliance with Zephyr’s design goals, most of these values are statically configured at compile time.

However, certain parameters could require runtime configuration, for example, threshold values for interrupts. These values are configured via attributes. The example in the following section showcases a sensor with an interrupt line that is triggered when the temperature crosses a threshold. The threshold is configured at runtime using an attribute.

Triggers

Triggers in Zephyr refer to the interrupt lines of the sensor chips. Many sensor chips support one or more triggers. Some examples of triggers include: new data is ready for reading, a channel value has crossed a threshold, or the device has sensed motion.

To configure a trigger, an application needs to supply a struct sensor_trigger and a handler function. The structure contains the trigger type and the channel on which the trigger must be configured.

Because most sensors are connected via SPI or I2C busses, it is not possible to communicate with them from the interrupt execution context. The execution of the trigger handler is deferred to a thread, so that data fetching operations are possible. A driver can spawn its own thread to fetch data, thus ensuring minimum latency. Alternatively, multiple sensor drivers can share a system-wide thread. The shared thread approach increases the latency of handling interrupts but uses less memory. You can configure which approach to follow for each driver. Most drivers can entirely disable triggers resulting in a smaller footprint.

The following example contains a trigger fired whenever temperature crosses the 26 degree Celsius threshold. It also samples the temperature every second. A real application would ideally disable periodic sampling in the interest of saving power. Since the application has direct access to the kernel config symbols, no trigger is registered when triggering was disabled by the driver’s configuration.

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#ifdef CONFIG_MCP9808_TRIGGER
static void trigger_handler(struct device *dev, struct sensor_trigger *trig)
{
	struct sensor_value temp;

	sensor_sample_fetch(dev);
	sensor_channel_get(dev, SENSOR_CHAN_AMBIENT_TEMP, &temp);

	printf("trigger fired, temp %d.%06d\n", temp.val1, temp.val2);
}
#endif

void main(void)
{
	struct device *dev = device_get_binding("MCP9808");

	if (dev == NULL) {
		printf("device not found.  aborting test.\n");
		return;
	}

#ifdef DEBUG
	printf("dev %p\n", dev);
	printf("dev %p name %s\n", dev, dev->config->name);
#endif

#ifdef CONFIG_MCP9808_TRIGGER
	struct sensor_value val;
	struct sensor_trigger trig;

	val.val1 = 26;
	val.val2 = 0;

	sensor_attr_set(dev, SENSOR_CHAN_AMBIENT_TEMP,
			SENSOR_ATTR_UPPER_THRESH, &val);

	trig.type = SENSOR_TRIG_THRESHOLD;
	trig.chan = SENSOR_CHAN_AMBIENT_TEMP;

	if (sensor_trigger_set(dev, &trig, trigger_handler)) {
		printf("Could not set trigger.  aborting test.\n");
		return;
	}
#endif

	while (1) {
		struct sensor_value temp;
		int rc;

		rc = sensor_sample_fetch(dev);
		if (rc != 0) {
			printf("sensor_sample_fetch error: %d\n", rc);
			break;
		}

		rc = sensor_channel_get(dev, SENSOR_CHAN_AMBIENT_TEMP, &temp);
		if (rc != 0) {
			printf("sensor_channel_get error: %d\n", rc);
			break;
		}

		printf("temp: %d.%06d\n", temp.val1, temp.val2);

		k_sleep(2000);
	}
}

API Reference

group sensor_interface

Sensor Interface.

Defines

SENSOR_G

The value of gravitational constant in micro m/s^2.

SENSOR_PI

The value of constant PI in micros.

Typedefs

typedef sensor_trigger_handler_t

Callback API upon firing of a trigger.

Parameters
  • struct device *dev: Pointer to the sensor device
  • struct sensor_trigger *trigger: The trigger

typedef sensor_attr_set_t

Callback API upon setting a sensor’s attributes.

See sensor_attr_set() for argument description

typedef sensor_trigger_set_t

Callback API for setting a sensor’s trigger and handler.

See sensor_trigger_set() for argument description

typedef sensor_sample_fetch_t

Callback API for fetching data from a sensor.

See sensor_sample_fetch() for argument description

typedef sensor_channel_get_t

Callback API for getting a reading from a sensor.

See sensor_channel_get() for argument description

Enums

enum sensor_channel

Sensor channels.

Values:

SENSOR_CHAN_ACCEL_X

Acceleration on the X axis, in m/s^2.

SENSOR_CHAN_ACCEL_Y

Acceleration on the Y axis, in m/s^2.

SENSOR_CHAN_ACCEL_Z

Acceleration on the Z axis, in m/s^2.

SENSOR_CHAN_ACCEL_XYZ

Acceleration on the X, Y and Z axes.

SENSOR_CHAN_GYRO_X

Angular velocity around the X axis, in radians/s.

SENSOR_CHAN_GYRO_Y

Angular velocity around the Y axis, in radians/s.

SENSOR_CHAN_GYRO_Z

Angular velocity around the Z axis, in radians/s.

SENSOR_CHAN_GYRO_XYZ

Angular velocity around the X, Y and Z axes.

SENSOR_CHAN_MAGN_X

Magnetic field on the X axis, in Gauss.

SENSOR_CHAN_MAGN_Y

Magnetic field on the Y axis, in Gauss.

SENSOR_CHAN_MAGN_Z

Magnetic field on the Z axis, in Gauss.

SENSOR_CHAN_MAGN_XYZ

Magnetic field on the X, Y and Z axes.

SENSOR_CHAN_DIE_TEMP

Device die temperature in degrees Celsius.

SENSOR_CHAN_AMBIENT_TEMP

Ambient temperature in degrees Celsius.

SENSOR_CHAN_PRESS

Pressure in kilopascal.

SENSOR_CHAN_PROX

Proximity. Adimensional. A value of 1 indicates that an object is close.

SENSOR_CHAN_HUMIDITY

Humidity, in percent.

SENSOR_CHAN_LIGHT

Illuminance in visible spectrum, in lux.

SENSOR_CHAN_IR

Illuminance in infra-red spectrum, in lux.

SENSOR_CHAN_RED

Illuminance in red spectrum, in lux.

SENSOR_CHAN_GREEN

Illuminance in green spectrum, in lux.

SENSOR_CHAN_BLUE

Illuminance in blue spectrum, in lux.

SENSOR_CHAN_ALTITUDE

Altitude, in meters

SENSOR_CHAN_PM_1_0

1.0 micro-meters Particulate Matter, in ug/m^3

SENSOR_CHAN_PM_2_5

2.5 micro-meters Particulate Matter, in ug/m^3

SENSOR_CHAN_PM_10

10 micro-meters Particulate Matter, in ug/m^3

SENSOR_CHAN_DISTANCE

Distance. From sensor to target, in meters

SENSOR_CHAN_CO2

CO2 level, in parts per million (ppm)

SENSOR_CHAN_VOC

VOC level, in parts per billion (ppb)

SENSOR_CHAN_VOLTAGE

Voltage, in volts

SENSOR_CHAN_CURRENT

Current, in amps

SENSOR_CHAN_ROTATION

Angular rotation, in degrees

SENSOR_CHAN_ALL

All channels.

enum sensor_trigger_type

Sensor trigger types.

Values:

SENSOR_TRIG_TIMER

Timer-based trigger, useful when the sensor does not have an interrupt line.

SENSOR_TRIG_DATA_READY

Trigger fires whenever new data is ready.

SENSOR_TRIG_DELTA

Trigger fires when the selected channel varies significantly. This includes any-motion detection when the channel is acceleration or gyro. If detection is based on slope between successive channel readings, the slope threshold is configured via the SENSOR_ATTR_SLOPE_TH and SENSOR_ATTR_SLOPE_DUR attributes.

SENSOR_TRIG_NEAR_FAR

Trigger fires when a near/far event is detected.

SENSOR_TRIG_THRESHOLD

Trigger fires when channel reading transitions configured thresholds. The thresholds are configured via the SENSOR_ATTR_LOWER_THRESH and SENSOR_ATTR_UPPER_THRESH attributes.

SENSOR_TRIG_TAP

Trigger fires when a single tap is detected.

SENSOR_TRIG_DOUBLE_TAP

Trigger fires when a double tap is detected.

enum sensor_attribute

Sensor attribute types.

Values:

SENSOR_ATTR_SAMPLING_FREQUENCY

Sensor sampling frequency, i.e. how many times a second the sensor takes a measurement.

SENSOR_ATTR_LOWER_THRESH

Lower threshold for trigger.

SENSOR_ATTR_UPPER_THRESH

Upper threshold for trigger.

SENSOR_ATTR_SLOPE_TH

Threshold for any-motion (slope) trigger.

SENSOR_ATTR_SLOPE_DUR

Duration for which the slope values needs to be outside the threshold for the trigger to fire.

SENSOR_ATTR_OVERSAMPLING

Oversampling factor

SENSOR_ATTR_FULL_SCALE

Sensor range, in SI units.

SENSOR_ATTR_OFFSET

The sensor value returned will be altered by the amount indicated by offset: final_value = sensor_value + offset.

SENSOR_ATTR_CALIB_TARGET

Calibration target. This will be used by the internal chip’s algorithms to calibrate itself on a certain axis, or all of them.

Functions

int sensor_attr_set(struct device *dev, enum sensor_channel chan, enum sensor_attribute attr, const struct sensor_value *val)

Set an attribute for a sensor.

Return
0 if successful, negative errno code if failure.
Parameters
  • dev: Pointer to the sensor device
  • chan: The channel the attribute belongs to, if any. Some attributes may only be set for all channels of a device, depending on device capabilities.
  • attr: The attribute to set
  • val: The value to set the attribute to

static int z_impl_sensor_attr_set(struct device *dev, enum sensor_channel chan, enum sensor_attribute attr, const struct sensor_value *val)
static int sensor_trigger_set(struct device *dev, struct sensor_trigger *trig, sensor_trigger_handler_t handler)

Activate a sensor’s trigger and set the trigger handler.

The handler will be called from a thread, so I2C or SPI operations are safe. However, the thread’s stack is limited and defined by the driver. It is currently up to the caller to ensure that the handler does not overflow the stack.

This API is not permitted for user threads.

Return
0 if successful, negative errno code if failure.
Parameters
  • dev: Pointer to the sensor device
  • trig: The trigger to activate
  • handler: The function that should be called when the trigger fires

int sensor_sample_fetch(struct device *dev)

Fetch a sample from the sensor and store it in an internal driver buffer.

Read all of a sensor’s active channels and, if necessary, perform any additional operations necessary to make the values useful. The user may then get individual channel values by calling sensor_channel_get.

Since the function communicates with the sensor device, it is unsafe to call it in an ISR if the device is connected via I2C or SPI.

Return
0 if successful, negative errno code if failure.
Parameters
  • dev: Pointer to the sensor device

static int z_impl_sensor_sample_fetch(struct device *dev)
int sensor_sample_fetch_chan(struct device *dev, enum sensor_channel type)

Fetch a sample from the sensor and store it in an internal driver buffer.

Read and compute compensation for one type of sensor data (magnetometer, accelerometer, etc). The user may then get individual channel values by calling sensor_channel_get.

This is mostly implemented by multi function devices enabling reading at different sampling rates.

Since the function communicates with the sensor device, it is unsafe to call it in an ISR if the device is connected via I2C or SPI.

Return
0 if successful, negative errno code if failure.
Parameters
  • dev: Pointer to the sensor device
  • type: The channel that needs updated

static int z_impl_sensor_sample_fetch_chan(struct device *dev, enum sensor_channel type)
int sensor_channel_get(struct device *dev, enum sensor_channel chan, struct sensor_value *val)

Get a reading from a sensor device.

Return a useful value for a particular channel, from the driver’s internal data. Before calling this function, a sample must be obtained by calling sensor_sample_fetch or sensor_sample_fetch_chan. It is guaranteed that two subsequent calls of this function for the same channels will yield the same value, if sensor_sample_fetch or sensor_sample_fetch_chan has not been called in the meantime.

For vectorial data samples you can request all axes in just one call by passing the specific channel with _XYZ suffix. The sample will be returned at val[0], val[1] and val[2] (X, Y and Z in that order).

Return
0 if successful, negative errno code if failure.
Parameters
  • dev: Pointer to the sensor device
  • chan: The channel to read
  • val: Where to store the value

static int z_impl_sensor_channel_get(struct device *dev, enum sensor_channel chan, struct sensor_value *val)
static s32_t sensor_ms2_to_g(const struct sensor_value *ms2)

Helper function to convert acceleration from m/s^2 to Gs.

Return
The converted value, in Gs.
Parameters
  • ms2: A pointer to a sensor_value struct holding the acceleration, in m/s^2.

static void sensor_g_to_ms2(s32_t g, struct sensor_value *ms2)

Helper function to convert acceleration from Gs to m/s^2.

Parameters
  • g: The G value to be converted.
  • ms2: A pointer to a sensor_value struct, where the result is stored.

static s32_t sensor_rad_to_degrees(const struct sensor_value *rad)

Helper function for converting radians to degrees.

Return
The converted value, in degrees.
Parameters
  • rad: A pointer to a sensor_value struct, holding the value in radians.

static void sensor_degrees_to_rad(s32_t d, struct sensor_value *rad)

Helper function for converting degrees to radians.

Parameters
  • d: The value (in degrees) to be converted.
  • rad: A pointer to a sensor_value struct, where the result is stored.

static double sensor_value_to_double(struct sensor_value *val)

Helper function for converting struct sensor_value to double.

Return
The converted value.
Parameters

struct sensor_value
#include <sensor.h>

Representation of a sensor readout value.

The value is represented as having an integer and a fractional part, and can be obtained using the formula val1 + val2 * 10^(-6). Negative values also adhere to the above formula, but may need special attention. Here are some examples of the value representation:

 0.5: val1 =  0, val2 =  500000
-0.5: val1 =  0, val2 = -500000
-1.0: val1 = -1, val2 =  0
-1.5: val1 = -1, val2 = -500000

struct sensor_trigger
#include <sensor.h>

Sensor trigger spec.