MicroPython API

With MicroPython, you can rapidly prototype and develop applications without delving into low-level programming. Just a few lines of Python code allow you to draw on the display, access the camera, and leverage the FPGA for processing. Plus, you enjoy all the advantages of Python. The best part? It’s completely wireless, and you can access the Python REPL seamlessly over Bluetooth.

The MicroPython firmware for Monocle is a customized version based on the upstream MicroPython project. Thanks to the thriving MicroPython community, we continuously update our firmware to incorporate new features from the upstream project.

Currently, a subset of the standard MicroPython libraries is supported, with periodic additions. We have also included additional modules that facilitate easy interaction with the Monocle hardware. To familiarize yourself with all the features, make sure to explore the MicroPython docs site and our own documentation.

The REPL enables you to explore the hardware capabilities and prototype your applications line by line before final implementation.

As you embark on building your applications, you can conveniently save them directly onto your Monocle device. Upon booting up, Monocle will automatically attempt to execute a main.py file if you have created one. Using the Brilliant AR Studio, you can easily create, save, and edit files directly on your Monocle.

Typing help('modules') lists all the modules contained on the device:

>>> help('modules')
__main__          asyncio/core      display           os
_asyncio          asyncio/event     errno             random
_camera           asyncio/funcs     fpga              re
_display          asyncio/lock      gc                select
_mountfs          asyncio/stream    hashlib           struct
_rtt              binascii          io                sys
_splashscreen     bluetooth         json              time
_test             builtins          led               touch
_update           camera            math              uasyncio
array             collections       microphone        update
asyncio/__init__  device            micropython       vgr2d
Plus any modules on the filesystem

To explore a specific module, import it, and call help(module_name):

>>> import device
>>> help(device)
object <module ''> is of type module
  NAME -- monocle
  mac_address -- <function>
  VERSION -- v23.181.0720
  GIT_TAG -- 813d559bc
  GIT_REPO -- https://github.com/brilliantlabsAR/monocle-micropython
  battery_level -- <function>
  reset -- <function>
  reset_cause -- <function>
  prevent_sleep -- <function>
  force_sleep -- <function>
  is_charging -- <function>
  Storage -- <class 'Storage'>

To gain a clear understanding of the purpose and return values of each function or class, refer to the MicroPython API reference provided below.

Library reference

  1. builtins
  2. device – Monocle specific
  3. display – Monocle specific
  4. camera – Monocle specific
  5. microphone – Monocle specific
  6. touch – Monocle specific
  7. led – Monocle specific
  8. fpga – Monocle specific
  9. bluetooth - Monocle specific
  10. time – Monocle specific
  11. update - Monocle specific
  12. gc
  13. math
  14. micropython
  15. uarray
  16. uasyncio
  17. ubinascii
  18. ucollections
  19. uerrno
  20. uhashlib
  21. uio
  22. ujson
  23. uos
  24. urandom
  25. ure
  26. uselect
  27. ustruct
  28. usys


Standard MicroPython built in functions are supported.


import builtins
help(builtins) # Lists all of the built-in MicroPython functions

device – Monocle specific

The device class contains general information about the Monocle’s hardware and firmware.

NAME constantConstant which holds 'monocle' as a string.
mac_address() functionReturns the 48-bit MAC address as a 17 character string in the format 'xx:xx:xx:xx:xx:xx', where each xx is a byte in lowercase hex format.
VERSION constantConstant containing the firmware version as a 12 character string. E.g. 'v22.342.1252'.
GIT_TAG constantConstant containing the build git tag as a 9 character string.
GIT_REPO constantConstant containing the project git repo as a string.
battery_level() functionReturns the battery level percentage as an integer.
reset() functionResets the device.
reset_cause() functionReturns the reason for the previous reset or startup state. These can be either:
- 'POWERED_ON' if the device was powered on normally
- 'SOFTWARE_RESET' if device.reset() was called
- 'CRASHED' if the device had crashed.
prevent_sleep(enable) functionEnables or disables sleeping of the device when put back into the charging case. Sleeping is enabled by default. If no argument is given. The currently set value is returned. WARNING: Running monocle for prolonged periods may result in display burn in, as well as reduced lifetime of components.
force_sleep() functionPuts the device to sleep. All hardware components are shut down, and Bluetooth is disconnected. Upon touching either of the touch pads, the device will wake up, and reset.
is_charging() functionReturns True if the Monocle is currently charging. Useful only when prevent_sleep() is enabled, otherwise the Monocle automatically turns off when placed on charge.
Storage(start, length) classThe Storage class is used internally for initializing and accessing the file system. This class shouldn’t be accessed, unless you want to reformat the internal storage. To learn more about how MicroPython handles user files, have a look at the documentation here and here.


import device
device.VERSION # Prints the device firmware version
device.battery_level() # Returns the current battery level as a percentage

display – Monocle specific

The display module allows for drawing to the micro OLED display.

Text(string, x, y, color, justify=TOP_LEFT) classCreates a text object at the coordinate x, y which can be passed to display.show(). string can be any string, and color should be an RGB hex value with the format 0xRRGGBB. If the justify parameter is given, the text will be justified accordingly from the x, y coordinate.
Rectangle(x1, y1, x2, y2, color) classCreates a rectangle object which can be passed to display.show(). x1, y1 and x2, y2 define each corner of the rectangle. color should be an RGB hex value with the format 0xRRGGBB.
Fill(color) classCreates a colored box object which fills the entire screen, and can be passed to display.show(). color should be an RGB hex value with the format 0xRRGGBB.
Line(x1, y1, x2, y2, color, thickness=1) classCreates a line object from x1, y1 to x2, y2 which can be passed to display.show(). color should be an RGB hex value with the format 0xRRGGBB, and thickness can optionally be provided to override the default line thickness in pixels.
VLine(x, y, height, color, thickness=1) classCreates a vertical line object from position x, y with a length of height which can be passed to display.show(). color should be an RGB hex value with the format 0xRRGGBB, and thickness can optionally be provided to override the default line thickness in pixels.
HLine(x, y, width, color, thickness=1) classCreates an horizontal line object from position x, y with a length of width which can be passed to display.show(). color should be an RGB hex value with the format 0xRRGGBB, and thickness can optionally be provided to override the default line thickness in pixels.
Polygon([x1, y1, ... xn, yn], color) classCreates a polygon object which can be passed to display.show(). The first parameter should be a list of coordinates, and color should be an RGB hex value with the format 0xRRGGBB. Polygons are always closed shapes, therefore if the last coordinate does not close the shape, it will be closed automatically.
Polyline([x1,y1,...xn,yn],color,thickness=1) classSimilar to the Polygon object, Polyline creates a shape based on a list of coordinates. Unlike Polygon, Polyline does not need to be a closed shape. color should be an RGB hex value with the format 0xRRGGBB, and thickness can optionally be provided to override the default line thickness in pixels.
show(object_1, ... object_n) functionPrints to the display. The passed arguments can be any number of Text, Line, Rectangle, Polygon, or Polyline objects, or any number of lists containing such objects. Objects are layered front to back, i.e. object_1 is shown on top of object_n.
move(x, y) functionmove() can be called as a class method on any printable object to translate its position. x and y will move the object relative to its current position.
move([objects], x, y) functionAdditionally, move() can be called as a standard function to move a list of objects together. This is useful for grouping printable objects together and moving them as layers.
color(color) functioncolor() can be called as a class method on any printable object to change its color. color should be an RGB hex value with the format 0xRRGGBB.
color([objects], color) functionAdditionally, color() can be called as a standard function to change the color on a whole list of objects. color should be an RGB hex value with the format 0xRRGGBB.
brightness(level) functionSets the display’s brightness. level can be 0 (dimmest), 1, 2, 3, or 4 (brightest). Level 3 is the default.
clear() functionClears the display.
CLEAR constantEqual to 0x000000.
RED constantEqual to 0xad2323.
GREEN constantEqual to 0x1d6914.
BLUE constantEqual to 0x2a4bd7.
CYAN constantEqual to 0x29d0d0.
MAGENTA constantEqual to 0x8126c0.
YELLOW constantEqual to 0xffee33.
WHITE constantEqual to 0xffffff.
GRAY1 constantEqual to 0x1c1c1c.
GRAY2 constantEqual to 0x383838.
GRAY3 constantEqual to 0x555555.
GRAY4 constantEqual to 0x717171.
GRAY5 constantEqual to 0x8d8d8d.
GRAY6 constantEqual to 0xaaaaaa.
GRAY7 constantEqual to 0xc6c6c6.
GRAY8 constantEqual to 0xe2e2e2.
TOP_LEFT constantJustifies a text object on its x, y coordinate to the top left.
TOP_CENTER constantJustifies a text object on its x, y coordinate to the top center
TOP_RIGHT constantJustifies a text object on its x, y coordinate to the bottom center
MIDDLE_LEFT constantJustifies a text object on its x, y coordinate to the middle left
MIDDLE_CENTER constantJustifies a text object on its x, y coordinate to the top right
MIDDLE_RIGHT constantJustifies a text object on its x, y coordinate to the middle right
BOTTOM_LEFT constantJustifies a text object on its x, y coordinate to the bottom left
BOTTOM_CENTER constantJustifies a text object on its x, y coordinate to the middle center
BOTTOM_RIGHT constantJustifies a text object on its x, y coordinate to the bottom right
WIDTH constantThe display width in pixels. Equal to 640.
HEIGHT constantThe display height in pixels. Equal to 400.
FONT_WIDTH constantThe font width in pixels. Equal to 24.
FONT_HEIGHT constantThe font height in pixels. Equal to 48.

This shows, for a given coordinate (x,y) used as reference, where the text will be placed:

Illustration of the `justify=...` parameter

import display

# Place some text in the middle of the screen with a line underneath
text = display.Text('Hello world', 320, 200, display.WHITE, justify=display.MIDDLE_CENTER)
line = display.Line(175, 230, 465, 230, display.WHITE)
display.show(text, line)

# Group the line and the text together to change the color of both at the same time
group = [text, line]
display.color(group, display.GREEN)

# Move the line above the text, and print everything again
line.move(0, -75)

# Create a white polygon with a red outline and print everything again
poly = display.Polygon([0, 0, 639, 399, 0, 399], display.WHITE)
outline = display.Polyline([0, 0, 639, 399, 0, 399, 0, 0], display.RED)
display.show(text, line, outline, poly)

camera – Monocle specific

The camera module allows for capturing images and transferring them to another device over Bluetooth.

capture() functionIssues an instruction to the FPGA to start capturing a single image. Always overwrites any previously captured image. Once capture() returns, the image data can be read out using read().
read(bytes=254) functionReads out a number of bytes from the image frame buffer. bytes can be overridden to read out less than 254 bytes. A maximum of 254 bytes may be read out at a time. Multiple reads are required to read out an entire image. Once an entire image is read, and no bytes remain, read() will return None. If the output mode is set to RGB, a known number of bytes can be read out, however in JPEG mode, the total number of bytes will vary.
RGB constantString constant which represents a RGB565 output format.
JPEG constantString constant which represents a JPEG output format.


import camera
import bluetooth
import ubinascii

# Capture a JPEG image and transfer it over the Bluetooth raw data service
while data := camera.read(bluetooth.max_length()):

# Capture a JPEG image and shows it as base64 in the REPL (less efficient)
while data := camera.read(bluetooth.max_length()):

microphone – Monocle specific

The microphone module allows for capturing audio and streaming it to another device over Bluetooth.

record(seconds=5.0,sample_rate=16000,bit_depth=16) functionIssues an instruction to the FPGA to start recording audio for a number of seconds. Always clears previously recorded audio. While recording is ongoing, data can be read out using read(). sample_rate can be either 16000 or 8000. bit_depth can be either 16 or 8.
read(samples) functionReads out a number of recorded audio samples from the FPGA as a bytearray. Samples are either signed 16bit values, or signed 8bit values, depending on what bit_depth was previously set to during recording. Up to 127 samples can be read at a time. Note if using 16bit mode, the number of bytes returned are always twice the sample value.


import microphone

# Starts a new 4 second recording with 8khz sample rate, and signed 8bit output
microphone.record(seconds=4.0, bit_depth=8, sample_rate=8000)
time.sleep(0.5)  ## A short time is needed to let the FPGA prepare the buffer

samples = bluetooth.max_length() // 2

while True:
        chunk1 = microphone.read(samples)
        chunk2 = microphone.read(samples)

        if chunk1 == None:
        elif chunk2 == None:
            bluetooth_send_message(chunk1 + chunk2)

touch – Monocle specific

The touch module allows for reacting to touch events from the capacitive touch pads on Monocle.

callback(pad,callback) functionAttaches a callback handler to one, both or either of the touch pads. If pad is given as 'BOTH', then both pads must be touched to trigger the callback. If pad is given as 'EITHER', then touching either of the pads will trigger the callback. Otherwise 'A' or 'B' can be used to assign separate callback functions to each pad individually. callback should be a predefined function taking one argument. This argument will equal the pad which triggered the callback. To unassign a callback, issue callback(pad, None). To view the currently assigned callback for a particular pad, issue callback(pad) without the second argument.
state(pad) functionReturns the current touch state of the touch pads. If pad is not specified, either 'A', 'B', 'BOTH' or None will be returned depending on which pads are currently touched. If pad is specified, then True or False will be returned for the touch state of that pad.
A constantString constant which represents Pad A.
B constantString constant which represents Pad B.
BOTH constantString constant which represents both pads.
EITHER constantString constant which represents either pads.


import touch

# Define the touch callback function which is triggered upon a touch event
def fn(arg):
    if arg == touch.A:
        print("button A pressed!")
    if arg == touch.B:
        print("button B pressed!")

touch.callback(touch.EITHER, fn) # Attaches the same callback to either of the touch pads

led – Monocle specific

The LED module contains functions to control the red and green LED on the front of Monocle.

on(color) functionIlluminates an led. color can be either led.RED or led.GREEN.
off(color) function Turns off an led. color can be either led.RED or led.GREEN.
RED constantString constant which represents the red led.
GREEN constantString constant which represents the green led.


import led
led.on(led.GREEN) # Turns on the green LED
led.on('GREEN') # Also turns on the green LED
led.off(led.GREEN) # Turns off the green LED
led.on(led.RED) # Turns on the red LED
led.off(led.RED) # Turns off the red LED

fpga – Monocle specific

The FPGA module allows for communicating with the FPGA over the internal SPI bus.

read(addr, n) functionReads n number of bytes from the 16-bit address addr, and returns a bytes object.
write(addr,bytes[]) functionWrites all bytes from a given bytes object bytes[] to the 16-bit address addr.
run(state) functionrun(False) stops and powers down the FPGA. run(True) powers up the FPGA and restarts operation. This function should only be using during the FPGA application update process. Once stopped, the camera and display will no longer be configured, and a device.reset() would be required to reinitialize them. Calling run() without any argument will return the current run state of the FPGA.


import fpga
fpga.read(0x1234, 5) # Reads 5 bytes from some FPGA register (0x1234 in this case)
fpga.write(0x1234, b'\x01\x02\x03') # Writes three bytes (1, 2, 3) to the FPGA register 0x1234
fpga.write(0x1234, b'hello fpga') # Writes the byte string 'hello fpga' to the FPGA register
fpga.write(0x1234, b'') # Doesn't write anything specific, but acts as a command or trigger

bluetooth - Monocle specific

The bluetooth module can be used to transfer byte data between Monocle and the host Bluetooth device. Bytes can contain any arbitrary data, and avoids having to pollute the REPL interface with printing data out as strings. The raw data service is used for all communications under the bluetooth module.

send(bytes[]) functionSends data from a bytes object bytes[] over Bluetooth using the raw data service. The length of bytes[] must be equal to or less than the value returned by the bluetooth.max_length() function.
receive_callback(callback) functionAssigns a callback to receive data over the raw data service. callback must be a predefined function taking one argument. The value of the argument will be a bytes object bytes[] containing the received data. To unbind the callback, issue this function with callback set as None. If callback isn’t given when issuing this function, the currently set callback will be returned if it is set.
connected() functionReturns True if the raw data service is connected, otherwise returns False.
max_length() functionReturns the maximum data size the Bluetooth host allows for single transfers.


import bluetooth
bluetooth.connected() # Returns True if the Bluetooth is connected. Always true when using the REPL, but useful for saved scripts
len = bluetooth.max_length() # Returns the maximum payload size we can send in one go

str = "hello world"
bluetooth.send(str[:len]) # Sends the string 'hello world' to the host. Limited by the maximum payload size

# Define a callback function which is triggered upon reception of Bluetooth data from the host
def fn(bytes):

bluetooth.receive_callback(fn) # Attaches the above function to the receive callback

time – Monocle specific

The time module allows for getting/setting the time and date as well as adding delays into your programs.

time(secs) functionSets or gets the current system time in seconds. If secs is not provided, the current time is returned, otherwise the time is set according to the value of secs. secs should be referenced from midnight on the 1st of January 1970.
now(epoch) functionReturns a dictionary containing a human readable date and time. If no argument is provided, the current system time is used. If epoch is provided, that value will be used to generate the dictionary. The epoch should be referenced from midnight on the 1st of January 1970.
zone(offset) functionSets or gets the time zone offset from GMT as a string. If offset is provided, the timezone is set to the new value. offset must be provided as a string, eg “8:00”, or “-06:30”.
mktime(dict) functionThe inverse of now(). Converts a dictionary provided into an epoch timestamp. The returned epoch value will be referenced from midnight on the 1st of January 1970.
sleep(secs) functionSleep for a given number of seconds.
sleep_ms(msecs) functionSleep for a given number of milliseconds.
ticks_ms() functionReturns a timestamp in milliseconds since power on.
ticks_add(ticks, delta) functionOffsets a timestamp value by a given number. Can be positive or negative.
ticks_diff(ticks1,ticks2) functionReturns the difference between two timestamps. i.e. ticks1 - ticks2, but takes into consideration if the numbers wrap around.


import utime
time.sleep(1.5) # Sleeps for 1.5 seconds
time.sleep_ms(100) # Sleeps for 500ms
time.time(1681236168) # Sets the device system time using UTC timestamp
time.time() # Returns the current time (as a UTC timestamp), based on the system time
time.now() # Returns the current time as a human readable dictionary

update - Monocle specific

The update module allows for firmware upgrades of the MicroPython firmware, as well as the FPGA application over bluetooth. This library use used automatically by the Brilliant REPL for firmware updates. You generally shouldn’t need to call these manually, unless you’re implementing your own update process.

micropython() functionPuts the device into over-the-air device firmware update mode. The device will stay in DFU mode for 5 minutes or until an update is finished being performed. The device will then restart with an updated MicroPython firmware.
Fpga classFpga contains three low level functions which are used to update the FPGA. Fpga.erase() erases the existing application, Fpga.write(bytes[]) sequentially writes in the new application, and Fpga.read(address, length) can be used to read back and verify the application. For details on how the FPGA application is updated, check out the FPGA application updates section.


import update
update.micropython() # Reboots the device into update mode for updating the MicroPython firmware


Standard MicroPython garbage collection is supported.


import gc

# Shows the current memory usage as a percentage
mem_used = gc.mem_alloc() / (gc.mem_alloc() + gc.mem_free())
print('{:d}%'.format(round(mem_used * 100)))

# Manually runs the garbage collector


Standard MicroPython math functions are supported.


Standard MicroPython internals are supported.


Standard MicroPython arrays are supported.


Standard MicroPython asynchronous scheduling is supported.


Standard MicroPython binary/ASCII conversions are supported.


Standard MicroPython collection and container types are supported.


Standard MicroPython system error codes are supported.


Standard MicroPython hashing algorithms are supported.


Standard MicroPython IO streams are supported.


Standard MicroPython JSON handling is supported.


Standard MicroPython operating system services for file handling are supported.


Standard MicroPython random number generation is supported.


Standard MicroPython regular expressions are supported.


Standard MicroPython stream event waiting is supported.


Standard MicroPython struct primitives are supported.


Standard MicroPython system specific functions are supported.

Under the hood

This section describes how data is transferred to and from Monocle over Bluetooth.

For testing everything Bluetooth related, try our the nRF Connect App, for desktop, Android, or iOS.


All MicroPython communication, i.e. the REPL interface, is accessed via a single Bluetooth Service containing two Characteristics.

  • Serial service UUID: 6e400001-b5a3-f393-e0a9-e50e24dcca9e
  • Serial RX characteristic UUID: 6e400002-b5a3-f393-e0a9-e50e24dcca9e
  • Serial TX characteristic UUID: 6e400003-b5a3-f393-e0a9-e50e24dcca9e

The RX characteristic is write only, and transports serial string data from the central BLE device to Monocle. The TX characteristic is notification only and delivers messages back from Monocle, to the central BLE device.

Each characteristic transports string data of any length up to the negotiated MTU size - 3 bytes. Longer strings must be chopped up and will be automatically rejoined on the receiving side by Monocle. Likewise if Monocle wishes to send longer responses than can fit into a single MTU payload, the data will arrive sequentially, and can be concatenated by the central Bluetooth app. The diagram below describes how communication operates between Monocle and a central device.

Sequence diagram of the Monocle serial data service

A secondary Bluetooth Service, again containing two Characteristics, is used to transport raw data such as image, audio and firmware update data. The mechanism for the raw data service is similar to the serial data service, aside from the fact that null or 0 characters may also be included within the payload.

  • Raw data service UUID: e5700001-7bac-429a-b4ce-57ff900f479d
  • Raw data RX Characteristic UUID: e5700002-7bac-429a-b4ce-57ff900f479d
  • Raw data TX Characteristic UUID: e5700003-7bac-429a-b4ce-57ff900f479d

Raw data transfer may often be bigger than a single MTU payload. Similarly to the serial data, it may need to be broken up into pieces. To help reconstruct the packets sent or received by Monocle, a flag is present at the start of each payload to determine if it’s either a starting payload, middle payload, end payload, or a small single buffer payload. The exact mechanisms for different types of data transfer are outlined below.

Downloading media

Media files such as audio and images may be downloaded from the Monocle using the raw data service mentioned in the Communication section. Files may also be sent asynchronously by Monocle when they are ready.

Due to the small payload size of Bluetooth packets, the file may be spit into many chunks and need to be recombined by the receiving central device. A flag at the start of each payload indicates if it is the START, MIDDLE or END of the file. A very small file may also be transferred using the SMALL flag.

The first payload includes metadata about the file such as the filename (with a relevant file extension) and the file size. The sequence diagram below describes how a file is broken into several parts and the data can be recombined to construct the full file:

Sequence diagram of the Monocle raw data service

Firmware updates

Firmware updates are handled in two parts:

  • MicroPython firmware which runs on the Nordic nRF52 Bluetooth IC.

    The nRF52 contains a bootloader which is able to wirelessly update the firmware. To enter the bootloader mode, the following command can be used:

      import update

    Monocle will then reboot, and show as a new Bluetooth device named DFUTarg. The Nordic DFU protocol can then be used to perform an update.

    If you’re using the AR Studio for VSCode, firmware updates are handled automatically, however if you wish to implement your own. The WebREPL project serves as an example of how to implement your own firmware update protocol.

  • FPGA binary image which is used for display, camera and microphone processing.

    FPGA images can also be loaded wirelessly using Python commands. For simplicity, the FPGA binary is represented here as base64 encoded data, however the bluetooth.receive_callback() function can also be used to send bytes more efficiently over the air.

    Again, the WebREPL project serves as an example of how to implement your own FPGA update protocol.

      import device
      import update
      import ubinascii
      # Erases the entire application
      # Send exactly 444430 bytes. Each write appends to the already written data
      # There's no limitation on how many bytes you can send, but it should be
      # tuned to match the host MTU length for a faster upload speed
      # Write the special "done" flag at the end of the file