Abstract The development of a novel, low power optical sensing platform based on light emitting diodes (LEDs) is described. The sensor is constructed from a pair of LEDs fused together at an angle where one LED functions as the light source and the other LED is reverse biased to function as a light detector. Sensor function is based on the level of light received by the detector diode, which varies with the reflectance of the interface between the device and its environment, or the chemochromic membrane that covers the device. A simple microprocessor circuit is used to measure the time taken for the photon-induced current to discharge the detector LED from an initial 5 V (logic 1) to 1.7 V (logic zero). This sensing device has been successfully used for colour and colour-based pH measurements and offers extremely high sensitivity, enabling detection down to the sub micro molar level of dyes.