Grove - Infrared Reflective Sensor

Grove - Infrared Reflective Sensor is used to detect the presence of an object within a specific range. The sensor consists of an IR LED and a photosensor (phototransistor) pair. The light emitted by the IR LED gets reflected by any object placed in front of the sensor and this reflection is detected by the photosensor(phototransistor). Any white (or lighter) colored surface reflects more than black (or darker) colored surface.

When the reflected light is detected, it produces Digital HIGH (or Binary 1) output on the SIG pin. The on-board LED indicator will also glow. If no reflection is detected or if the object is too far from the sensor, the output on the SIG pin stays at Digital LOW (Binary 0). The on-board LED indicator will be off as well. The detectable range of this sensor is 4–16 mm. The module incorporates a Rail-to-Rail Operational Amplifier to amplify the output of phototransistor. There is a potentiometer which can be used to adjust the gain of the amplifier, that is, sensitivity of detection.

With this sensor, you can build the following (but not limited to) applications: line following robots, optical encoders and object counting applications.

Note: This product is also mildly sensitive to non-IR radiations and hence any bright light on photosensor impairs or disturbs IR light detection.

Version Tracker

Product version Release date Support status Notes
Versions older than v1.2 June 2012‎ Not supported None
Version 1.2(current version) April 2016 Supported None



Operating voltage(V) 4.5–5.5V
Operating current(mA) 14.69–15.35 mA
Effective detectable distance 0.5–4.5 cm
Response time 10 μs
Phototransistor: Peak sensitivity wavelength 800 nm
IR LED: Peak light emitting wavelength 940 nm
Reflective photosensor datasheet
Output operational amplifiers datasheet
Weight 4 g

Platform supported

Platform Seeeduino/Arduino Rasberry Pi LinkIt One Beaglebone
Supported status Supported Supported (using GrovePi) Not Supported Supported(only with Grove Base Cape for Beaglebone)
Notes If no version number is mentioned for a specific platform, it means this product supports all versions within this platform. But, you will need additional Grove Shield like Grove - Base shield v2 board.

Hardware Overview

Package includes

Parts name Quantity
Grove - Infrared Reflective Sensor 1 piece
Grove cable 1 piece

Getting Started

Let us see how to implement few basic applications with this module:

With Arduino

Materials required

Line Following

This sensor can be used to help a robotic car follow a black line.

1. Adjusting
Place the sensor such that there is 12mm between reflective photosensor and white (or light) colored surface.
2. Adjust the potentiometer with a screwdriver to change the sensitivity of reflective photosensor, until the LED indicator glows. As your rotate clockwise, the reflective photosensor will be more sensitive to light. Note Use a proper screw-driver to adjust the tiny potentiometer. Applying heavy pressure or frequent adjustments might damage the wiper of the potentiometer.
3. By maintaining the vertical distance, move the sensor horizontally above the black line. The indicator LED must go off over the black line. If it is still on, adjust the potentiometer until it is off.

Rotary Speed Detection

Let us implement simple optical encoder to detect the speed of a motor

1. Connect the Infrared Reflective Sensor to the D2 port of Grove - Base Shield like this:
2. Attach a round, white paper plate (with a black line marked on it) to the motor. Place the sensor near this rotatory encoder. Run the motor.
3. Download the library Arduino timer1 library and add it into the libraries file of Arduino IDE. A guide about how to run our demo code.
4. Upload the demo code to your Arduino/Seeeduino.
unsigned int counter=0;
void blink()
void timerIsr()
  Timer1.detachInterrupt();  //disable the timer1
  Serial.print("The speed of the motor: "); 
  Timer1.attachInterrupt( timerIsr );  //enable the timer1
void setup() 
  Timer1.initialize(1000000); // set a timer of length 1sec
  attachInterrupt(0, blink, RISING);  //INT0
  Timer1.attachInterrupt( timerIsr ); // attach the service routine here
void loop()
  ;  //do nothing

5. Open the Serial Monitor to read the data.

With Raspberry Pi

Material required

Hardware Connections and Software Work

1. You should have got a Raspberry Pi and a GrovePi or GrovePi+. In this demo, we use GrovePi.
2. We assume you have built the development environment successfully. If not, follow this tutorial.
3. Connection:
Plug Grove - Infrared Reflective Sensor into port D4 on GrovePi with Grove cable
4. Navigate to the demos' directory, run the following command in a terminal:
cd yourpath/GrovePi/Software/Python/
Run the command in a terminal:
Copy and save the following code into it:
import time
import grovepi
# Connect the Grove Infrared Reflective Sensor to digital port D4
sensor = 4
while True:
        # Sensor returns HIGH on a black surface and LOW on a white surface
        if grovepi.digitalRead(sensor) == 1:
            print "black surface detected"
            print "white surface detected"
    except IOError:
        print "Error"
5. To run the demo, execute the following command in terminal:
sudo python


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