Continuing the discussion from Librem 5 Backlight PWM frequency:
It crossed my mind. But the sensor doesn’t seem to be used yet, so maybe the control over its activation will be tightened up when it is put into use. It would probably be slightly more energy efficient if it was only activated when its input is actually required, rather than every time the screen lights up.
According to the schematic, it’s a VNCL4040 Fully Integrated Proximity and Ambient Light Sensor, so it’s a self-contained module with very little direct control over the IR emitter from the outside. You give it power and configuration data, and it gives you data about proximity or ambient light levels.
It’s the right wavelength for an IR remote (940nm) but you also need to be able to modulate the output at tens of kHz if you want to send IR remote commands. Skim reading the datasheet, it looks like it might be possible to do something like that, because it does accept some commands that affect the IR emitter, but it’s not really designed for sending IR signals so it might not come to anything. You’d have to do some experiments and see what you can hack it to achieve.
Looking more closely at mine, I notice the VNCL4040 is at a jaunty angle. It’s probably about 5 degrees off level. I wonder if that’s by design or if they are just not very accurately aligned. (I’m assuming it is supposed to be like that and it’s not a manufacturing defect.)