Apple (AAPL) HomePod Mini Secret Sensor for Smart Home Thermostats


An open Apple HomePod mini showing the hidden temperature and humidity sensor.

Source: iFixit; Magnified by Bloomberg

HomePod Mini Speaker from Apple Inc. launched last November with new features like a home intercom system. But one part of the device has been kept secret: a sensor that measures temperature and humidity.

The Cupertino, California-based tech giant never disclosed this component and the device currently lacks any consumer-facing features using it. The company has internally discussed using the sensor to determine a room’s temperature and humidity so that 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 allow the HomePod mini to automatically trigger other actions, like turning a fan on or off, based on the temperature.

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Texas Instruments temperature and humidity sensor from a HomePod mini.

Source: iFixit; Magnified by Bloomberg

If Apple finally enables the sensor, it would reinforce a smart home strategy that has sometimes lacked focus and has followed that of its rivals. The latest Echo speakers from Amazon.com Inc. have temperature sensors, while Google’s Nest sells sensors that can be placed around homes and connected to their thermostats to adjust the temperature of each room.

The new capabilities would be a particular boon for an Apple software system called HomeKit that controls thermostats, lights, locks, sockets, and other devices in the home. HomeKit works with fewer devices than similar software from Amazon and Google, and Apple doesn’t make its own smart home hardware beyond the HomePod and the Apple TV streaming box. However, there are about 40 thermostats included. on the Apple website that they are compatible with HomeKit.

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Size comparison of the temperature sensor and an SD card.

Source: iFixit

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