Though you qualitatively know that when you look at the sky it’s (normally) blue, dirt is brown, and grass is green, the way we normally describe these things is actually quite vague. To precisely describe what you’re seeing, you’d want to describe what intensity of each wavelength of light that combines into our environment’s brilliant array of colors using a device called a spectrometer.
Besides obvious uses such as matching paint or tuning RGB LEDs, this specific color data can be used in physics, chemistry, and even astronomy to analyze the chemical composition of stars and planets. So how do you integrate this kind of versatile sensor into your equipment? The C12880MA MEMS u-Spectrometer and Breakout Board is one interesting solution. As seen in the video below, it’s designed to plug directly into an Arduino Uno’s female headers.
The video shows it viewing the world around it through a Processing-based interface on a computer, as well as the response when a conventional and infrared (IR) light source is shined directly on the sensor. Of note is that it is able to sense light within the 340-850 nanometer wavelength, which mostly falls in the visible light range, but extends into the unseen IR spectrum as well.