Apple’s well-received HomePod mini smart speaker has a secret: a sensor that measures temperature and humidity that could be used to help control smart home thermostats.
Mark Gurman for Bloomberg News:
The Cupertino, California-based technology giant never disclosed this component and the device currently lacks consumer-facing features that use it. 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.
If Apple eventually enables the sensor, it would bolster a smart-home strategy that has sometimes lacked focus and trailed those of rivals. Amazon.com Inc.’s latest Echo speakers have temperature sensors, while Google’s Nest sells sensors that can be placed around homes and connect to its thermostats to adjust the temperature of each room.
The component’s location was confirmed by iFixit, which took apart one of the speakers after an inquiry from Bloomberg News. The sensor is made by Texas Instruments Inc. and is called the 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.
MacDailyNews Take: Apple’s home automation strategy, if you can call it that, is a disjointed, directionless mess, but the presence of this secret sensor in HomePod mini suggests at least some forethought and intent to do something with HomeKit that will eventually work for the majority of consumers, not just the tinkerer fringe.
Got my first HomeKit product last week, an extension lead for both plugs and usb devices and it was easy to set up with my wifi and awaits my decision as and where to actually use for lighting purposes. Great except that the turn on/off function based around the automatic Sunset recognition setting, which is great for not having to adjust timers as with my other set ups so far on a regular basis to synchronise with daylight. However the timer setting only goes up to a 4 hour ‘on’ time. Am I missing something here as I need at least 6 and really 8 hours of activity esp if I adopt motion sensors with it.
Not sure what best practice is, but my workaround was: instead of trying to control the device directly.. create 2 scenes and add your device to it.. then switch between those scenes at certain events, ignoring the duration… So your ‘on’ scene triggers at sunset, and your ‘off’ scene triggers at sunrise.. then you can add other devices to same scene if needed. I think HomeKit has quite a way to improve in this regard..
Have my Homepod as a base and now have an ECOBEE for the furnace and Meross plugs for the lamps. All work flawlessly through homekit. ECOBEE has sensors that will do what Apple was thinking (temp/humidity sensors to control different rooms) but at tis point not a big deal.
Yes I am disappointed in Apple in their smart home effort. They could be king of that castle and why they aren’t is a mystery to me.
Agree with your assessment. We have ECOBEE thermostats that are compatible with Home Kit, but it feels like a disjointed effort, when it should feel like a connected ecosystem, with a host of IoT appliances and devices.
I believe this ‘secret’ sensor is just a part of the hardware designed to protect the HomePod when someone tries to use it outside of it’s operating temperature parameters. It will probably shut the unit down in these circumstances.
Apple put the sensor there at my request, since becoming a transgender artist, my hot flushes have been extremely surprising, it must be the side effects of the hormones I’m taking.
I thank Tim Cook for taking bipolar transgenderism seriously, my unofficial HomePod Mini temperature app has been working a treat and I am proud to be part of beta testing features that will help all people, trans or not.
It makes me feel very artistic.
Unless Apple has no other intention for that sensor beyond protecting the device from harm, I suspect it could be used as fodder for future ‘-gates’ since they didn’t bother to disclose it.