Apple’s HomePod mini includes a hidden sensor that measures temperature and humidity, potentially providing the means to power upcoming features that could arrive in a future software update, according to Bloomberg.
Humidity and temperature sensor from a HomePod mini. Source: iFixit (via Bloomberg).
From Mark Gurman’s report:
The company has internally discussed using the sensor to determine a room’s temperature and humidity so internet-connected thermostats can adjust different parts of a home based on current conditions, according to people familiar with the situation. The hardware could also let the HomePod mini automatically trigger other actions, say turning a fan on or off, depending on the temperature.
Apple typically releases major HomePod software updates annually in the fall. It’s unclear if or when Apple will switch on the temperature sensor, but its presence in HomePod mini units that have already sold suggests that this is just a matter of time. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.
The sensor’s existence was confirmed by iFixit after an inquiry by Bloomberg, and measures 1.5 x 1.5mm. The component is buried in the bottom edge of the HomePod mini’s plastic case, near the power cable.
The sensor is made by Texas Instruments, which calls it a “HDC2010 Humidity and Temperature Digital Sensor,” according to TechInsights, a firm that analyses components inside of electronics.
The part is situated relatively far from the device’s main internal components, meaning it is designed to measure the external environment rather than the temperature of the speaker’s other electronics.
This isn’t the first time Apple has included a non-active component in a product and then enabled it at a later date via software. As Bloomberg notes, the 2008 iPod touch had a Bluetooth chip, but support for Bluetooth connectivity was enabled the following year via software.
If Apple decides to enable the sensor in the HomePod mini, it could pave the way for a more integrated smart home strategy for HomeKit, which controls thermostats, lights, locks, plugs and other devices in the home.
As the report notes, it could also help Apple’s HomeKit rival similar features already offered by competitors. For example. Amazon’s latest Echo speakers include temperature sensors, while Google sells sensors under its Nest brand that can be placed around homes and connect to its thermostats to adjust the temperature of each room.