HomePod mini has hidden, unused temperature sensor

Posted:
in General Discussion edited March 22
There is a temperature and humidity sensor that has been present in the HomePod mini since launch, but not used nor announced.

The hidden sensor in HomePod mini. (Source: Bloomberg)
The hidden sensor in HomePod mini. (Source: Bloomberg)


Missed by all teardowns at the time of launch, the HomePod mini is now revealed to have a sensor that is presumably planned for future use. There are still no specific details of its function or limits, but it is reportedly a sensor that measures temperature and humidity.

According to Bloomberg with assistance from iFixit, Apple has internally discussed deploying the sensor to relay that data to other devices. Unspecified sources say that it could be used to assist internet-connected thermostats.

Similarly, readings from the sensor that isn't in a good location to determine component temperatures could be used to trigger HomeKit actions. Potentially, a user could set a HomeKit-enabled fan to turn on when the HomePod mini reports the room reaching a certain temperature.

The sensor is in the base of the HomePod mini, next to where the power supply cable enters the unit, and is about the size of a grain of rice. Apple has not commented on its existence, and its HomePod mini technical specs do not list its presence.

However, as with all Apple devices, those specifications do list environmental operating parameters. HomePod mini is intended to be used only between 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit) and 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit).

Similarly, it's intended only for use when the relative humidity is what Apple describes as "5% to 90% non-condensing."

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 26

    The sensor is in the base of the HomePod mini, next to where the power supply cable enters the unit, and is about the size of a grain of rice. Apple has not commented on its existence, and its HomePod mini technical specs do not list its presence.

    This must be the spy chip that Bloomberg has been reporting on for so long!
    muthuk_vanalingamcornchipbonobobStrangeDaysapplguyBeatsAlex1NlolliverXedwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 26
    The most likely answer is that it is to correct for how the audio is heard. Since temperature and humidity affect how sound is heard it makes great sense to put something like this in. 
    edited March 22 seanjcornchipAlex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 26
    The most likely answer is that it is to correct for how the audio is heard. Since temperature and humidity affect how sound is heard it makes great sense to put something like this in. 
    That doesn't really make sense.  People have been making sound reproduction devices for more than a century and none (that I know of) employ temp and humidity sensors to affect the sound.  Your claim sounds a bit dubious, if I'm honest.  Perhaps you have more info to support it.  The most obvious reason it doesn't make sense?  The sensor is inactive so it couldn't be contributing to how sound is heard.  

    This is most likely for a future Homekit elements like smart thermostat, humidifier, space heater, air conditioner, etc.
    elijahgAlex1N
  • Reply 4 of 26
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,094administrator
    The most likely answer is that it is to correct for how the audio is heard. Since temperature and humidity affect how sound is heard it makes great sense to put something like this in. 
    There is almost no computational audio in the HomePod mini.
    cornchipAlex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 26
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,425member
    The most likely answer is that it is to correct for how the audio is heard. Since temperature and humidity affect how sound is heard it makes great sense to put something like this in. 
    That doesn't really make sense.  People have been making sound reproduction devices for more than a century and none (that I know of) employ temp and humidity sensors to affect the sound.  Your claim sounds a bit dubious, if I'm honest.  Perhaps you have more info to support it.  The most obvious reason it doesn't make sense?  The sensor is inactive so it couldn't be contributing to how sound is heard.  

    This is most likely for a future Homekit elements like smart thermostat, humidifier, space heater, air conditioner, etc.
    I agree with the latter post and speculation that this sensor pair is most likely targeting a smart home related function, like feedback for a smart thermostat and HVAC. The first post is entirely correct that sound propagation is absolutely affected by temperature, humidity, and also atmospheric pressure. If you live fairly close to a highway or railroad tracks that you only notice at night when the temperature drops you know all about temperature related sound diffraction. However, I would not expect that temperature or humidity related diffraction would be significant enough to notice within the small listening area and volume that a HomePod Mini is designed to support. But who knows, without doing the math.

    It's also possible that these sensors are used to prevent the device from being operated outside of the temperature and humidity specifications. But since it's not hooked up, whatever it may be used for is a mystery.
    edited March 22 zroger73StrangeDaysAlex1Npatchythepirate
  • Reply 6 of 26
    dewme said:
    The most likely answer is that it is to correct for how the audio is heard. Since temperature and humidity affect how sound is heard it makes great sense to put something like this in. 
    That doesn't really make sense.  People have been making sound reproduction devices for more than a century and none (that I know of) employ temp and humidity sensors to affect the sound.  Your claim sounds a bit dubious, if I'm honest.  Perhaps you have more info to support it.  The most obvious reason it doesn't make sense?  The sensor is inactive so it couldn't be contributing to how sound is heard.  

    This is most likely for a future Homekit elements like smart thermostat, humidifier, space heater, air conditioner, etc.
    I agree with the latter post and speculation that this sensor pair is most likely targeting a smart home related function, like feedback for a smart thermostat and HVAC. The first post is entirely correct that sound propagation is absolutely affected by temperature, humidity, and also atmospheric pressure. If you live fairly close to a highway or railroad tracks that you only notice at night when the temperature drops you know all about temperature related sound diffraction. However, I would not expect that temperature or humidity related diffraction would be significant enough to notice within the small listening area and volume that a HomePod Mini is designed to support. But who knows, without doing the math.

    It's also possible that these sensors are used to prevent the device from being operated outside of the temperature and humidity specifications. But since it's not hooked up, whatever it may be used for is a mystery.
    You may have misread my comment or I worded it badly, causing misinterpretation.  Either way,  I wasn't questioning whether or not temperature and humidity affect sound.  I was questioning his claim; which was: "The most likely answer is that it is to correct for how the audio is heard." ← That's what I said was dubious.  The science in general is fine.  The claimed application of said science (audio manipulation) is not imo.  As I said, I know of no one employing temperature and humidity to affect sound in audio devices... especially not $99 commodity priced audio devices.  It doesn't make sense.
    muthuk_vanalingamAlex1N
  • Reply 7 of 26
    zroger73zroger73 Posts: 774member
    dewme said:
    The most likely answer is that it is to correct for how the audio is heard. Since temperature and humidity affect how sound is heard it makes great sense to put something like this in. 
    That doesn't really make sense.  People have been making sound reproduction devices for more than a century and none (that I know of) employ temp and humidity sensors to affect the sound.  Your claim sounds a bit dubious, if I'm honest.  Perhaps you have more info to support it.  The most obvious reason it doesn't make sense?  The sensor is inactive so it couldn't be contributing to how sound is heard.  

    This is most likely for a future Homekit elements like smart thermostat, humidifier, space heater, air conditioner, etc.
    I agree with the latter post and speculation that this sensor pair is most likely targeting a smart home related function, like feedback for a smart thermostat and HVAC. The first post is entirely correct that sound propagation is absolutely affected by temperature, humidity, and also atmospheric pressure. If you live fairly close to a highway or railroad tracks that you only notice at night when the temperature drops you know all about temperature related sound diffraction. However, I would not expect that temperature or humidity related diffraction would be significant enough to notice within the small listening area and volume that a HomePod Mini is designed to support. But who knows, without doing the math.

    It's also possible that these sensors are used to prevent the device from being operated outside of the temperature and humidity specifications. But since it's not hooked up, whatever it may be used for is a mystery.
    ...and, a HomePod mini is almost always operated indoors in a climate-controlled space with a relatively constant temperature in a relatively narrow range.
    Alex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 26
    crowleycrowley Posts: 7,451member
    How do we know it isn't used?  It could be for internal monitoring to prevent compinent failure?
    Alex1N
  • Reply 9 of 26
    Any other “unannounced” sensors we should be aware of?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 26
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,425member
    dewme said:
    The most likely answer is that it is to correct for how the audio is heard. Since temperature and humidity affect how sound is heard it makes great sense to put something like this in. 
    That doesn't really make sense.  People have been making sound reproduction devices for more than a century and none (that I know of) employ temp and humidity sensors to affect the sound.  Your claim sounds a bit dubious, if I'm honest.  Perhaps you have more info to support it.  The most obvious reason it doesn't make sense?  The sensor is inactive so it couldn't be contributing to how sound is heard.  

    This is most likely for a future Homekit elements like smart thermostat, humidifier, space heater, air conditioner, etc.
    I agree with the latter post and speculation that this sensor pair is most likely targeting a smart home related function, like feedback for a smart thermostat and HVAC. The first post is entirely correct that sound propagation is absolutely affected by temperature, humidity, and also atmospheric pressure. If you live fairly close to a highway or railroad tracks that you only notice at night when the temperature drops you know all about temperature related sound diffraction. However, I would not expect that temperature or humidity related diffraction would be significant enough to notice within the small listening area and volume that a HomePod Mini is designed to support. But who knows, without doing the math.

    It's also possible that these sensors are used to prevent the device from being operated outside of the temperature and humidity specifications. But since it's not hooked up, whatever it may be used for is a mystery.
    You may have misread my comment or I worded it badly, causing misinterpretation.  Either way,  I wasn't questioning whether or not temperature and humidity affect sound.  I was questioning his claim; which was: "The most likely answer is that it is to correct for how the audio is heard." ← That's what I said was dubious.  The science in general is fine.  The claimed application of said science (audio manipulation) is not imo.  As I said, I know of no one employing temperature and humidity to affect sound in audio devices... especially not $99 commodity priced audio devices.  It doesn't make sense.
    I agreed with you, but was also saying the other source of speculation wasn't totally off-base. I think everyone agrees that with these sensors being in a non functional state, it doesn't really matter, other than it being a curiosity for us all to speculate about. It's basically an archeological discovery unless Apple has provided a way to activate the circuitry after the fact.
    CloudTalkinAlex1Nwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 26
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 11,070member
    This would be sweet, they should enable this. When it comes to the HVAC the rooms I care about are the ones I have speakers in. Currently using third-party sensors. (I live in a very old home so there is variance in temperature; using the sensors I tweak the ductwork dampers in an attempt to get near-equal conditioned air distribution.)
    edited March 22 zroger73Alex1Npatchythepiratewatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 26
    dewme said:
    dewme said:
    The most likely answer is that it is to correct for how the audio is heard. Since temperature and humidity affect how sound is heard it makes great sense to put something like this in. 
    That doesn't really make sense.  People have been making sound reproduction devices for more than a century and none (that I know of) employ temp and humidity sensors to affect the sound.  Your claim sounds a bit dubious, if I'm honest.  Perhaps you have more info to support it.  The most obvious reason it doesn't make sense?  The sensor is inactive so it couldn't be contributing to how sound is heard.  

    This is most likely for a future Homekit elements like smart thermostat, humidifier, space heater, air conditioner, etc.
    I agree with the latter post and speculation that this sensor pair is most likely targeting a smart home related function, like feedback for a smart thermostat and HVAC. The first post is entirely correct that sound propagation is absolutely affected by temperature, humidity, and also atmospheric pressure. If you live fairly close to a highway or railroad tracks that you only notice at night when the temperature drops you know all about temperature related sound diffraction. However, I would not expect that temperature or humidity related diffraction would be significant enough to notice within the small listening area and volume that a HomePod Mini is designed to support. But who knows, without doing the math.

    It's also possible that these sensors are used to prevent the device from being operated outside of the temperature and humidity specifications. But since it's not hooked up, whatever it may be used for is a mystery.
    You may have misread my comment or I worded it badly, causing misinterpretation.  Either way,  I wasn't questioning whether or not temperature and humidity affect sound.  I was questioning his claim; which was: "The most likely answer is that it is to correct for how the audio is heard." ← That's what I said was dubious.  The science in general is fine.  The claimed application of said science (audio manipulation) is not imo.  As I said, I know of no one employing temperature and humidity to affect sound in audio devices... especially not $99 commodity priced audio devices.  It doesn't make sense.
    I agreed with you, but was also saying the other source of speculation wasn't totally off-base. I think everyone agrees that with these sensors being in a non functional state, it doesn't really matter, other than it being a curiosity for us all to speculate about. It's basically an archeological discovery unless Apple has provided a way to activate the circuitry after the fact.
    It's all good. I just didn't want you to think I was questioning the science.  I went down a rabbit hole of sorts regarding the actual sensor, the HDC2010 made by Texas Instruments.  It's a neat little multipurpose all-in-one temp and humidity sensor with typical applications listed: Smart thermostats • Smart home assistants • Refrigerators • Refrigerated transport • Washer/dryers • HVAC systems • Gas sensing • Communications equipment • Environmental tags • Smoke and heat detectors • Inkjet printers • Surveillance cameras • CPAP machines • Wearables

    In short order, AI will have the below linked story.  It ties in perfectly with speculative uses of the sensor.  
    https://www.macrumors.com/2021/03/22/apple-speakers-with-screens-and-cameras-report/

    In that rabbit hole, I noticed a cool little tidbit about one of the sensor's other abilities: The sensing element of the HDC2010 is placed on the bottom part of the device, which makes the HDC2010 more robust against dirt, dust, and other environmental contaminants. The capacitive based sensor includes new integrated digital features and a heating element to dissipate condensation and moisture.  I see a future where this sensor is integrated into a lot of new HomeKit compatible devices.
    I stopped there, because the rabbit hole seemed much deeper.  
    Alex1Ndewme
  • Reply 13 of 26
    flydogflydog Posts: 901member
    The most likely answer is that it is to correct for how the audio is heard. Since temperature and humidity affect how sound is heard it makes great sense to put something like this in. 
    That doesn't really make sense.  People have been making sound reproduction devices for more than a century and none (that I know of) employ temp and humidity sensors to affect the sound.  Your claim sounds a bit dubious, if I'm honest.  Perhaps you have more info to support it.  The most obvious reason it doesn't make sense?  The sensor is inactive so it couldn't be contributing to how sound is heard.  

    This is most likely for a future Homekit elements like smart thermostat, humidifier, space heater, air conditioner, etc.
    Temperature and humidity do affect sound waves, and not sure how you expect that people would have implemented that "a century" ago, but in any case the claim is still absurd.
    Beats
  • Reply 14 of 26
    BeatsBeats Posts: 1,929member
    Sounds like a genius idea thy Apple hasn’t employed yet or couldn’t get to work right at launch.

    hope to see it soon.

    About humidity and sound:

    I don’t know how much that would affect sound. This is a very audiophile like argument. It may affect the sound .1% or something.
    Also sound is more obvious at night when “noise traffic” is at its lowest. This is why if you walk into an empty restaurant you could hear the person at the counter clearly but try hearing them clearly at a peak time full of people. Sounds aren’t louder in Winter for example and again, if they are it’s such an insignificant amount.
  • Reply 15 of 26
    flydog said:
    The most likely answer is that it is to correct for how the audio is heard. Since temperature and humidity affect how sound is heard it makes great sense to put something like this in. 
    That doesn't really make sense.  People have been making sound reproduction devices for more than a century and none (that I know of) employ temp and humidity sensors to affect the sound.  Your claim sounds a bit dubious, if I'm honest.  Perhaps you have more info to support it.  The most obvious reason it doesn't make sense?  The sensor is inactive so it couldn't be contributing to how sound is heard.  

    This is most likely for a future Homekit elements like smart thermostat, humidifier, space heater, air conditioner, etc.
    Temperature and humidity do affect sound waves, and not sure how you expect that people would have implemented that "a century" ago, but in any case the claim is still absurd.
    Curious.  Which part of my comment made you think that I was implying the use of that tech a century ago?  I guess my sentence construction needs work.  Regardless, we can all agree the claim makes no sense.  
    edited March 22 muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 16 of 26
    Maybe for home monitor alerts? Temperature readings out loud? 

    Or even - to stop power draw in case of voltage overload? 

    The possibilities. Interesting that this came up. Obviously the thought was to include it for a reason. 

    Hopefully we find out what it was. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 26

    The sensor is in the base of the HomePod mini, next to where the power supply cable enters the unit, and is about the size of a grain of rice. Apple has not commented on its existence, and its HomePod mini technical specs do not list its presence.

    This must be the spy chip that Bloomberg has been reporting on for so long!

    Are you writing it from mainland China or just brainwashed locally? You know maybe you should start visiting cybercrime report places and open your eyes. One of them is place where even former organized crime groups members and security specialist are reporters and peopel interviewed. Just start reading therecord.media reports. You may learn something valuable about cybersecurity. But I bet you do not know that plugs in those advanced mobile devices have electronic chip in them that has to ID itself to device. It could also containing something else, but your imagination is in fact limited. How is your profiling data used by AI platform and what yo want to onow is your choice. One may watch at least "Social Dilemma" on Netflix to undrstand a t list a it more.
  • Reply 18 of 26

    The sensor is in the base of the HomePod mini, next to where the power supply cable enters the unit, and is about the size of a grain of rice. Apple has not commented on its existence, and its HomePod mini technical specs do not list its presence.

    This must be the spy chip that Bloomberg has been reporting on for so long!

    Are you writing it from mainland China or just brainwashed locally? You know maybe you should start visiting cybercrime report places and open your eyes. One of them is place where even former organized crime groups members and security specialist are reporters and peopel interviewed. Just start reading therecord.media reports. You may learn something valuable about cybersecurity. But I bet you do not know that plugs in those advanced mobile devices have electronic chip in them that has to ID itself to device. It could also containing something else, but your imagination is in fact limited. How is your profiling data used by AI platform and what yo want to onow is your choice. One may watch at least "Social Dilemma" on Netflix to undrstand a t list a it more.
    Breh.  Calm down, hard man.  You're being a bit too sanctimonious over an obvious joke by @ihatescreennames ; I guess Poe's Law strikes again.
    edited March 23 muthuk_vanalingamrandominternetpersonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 26
    Don’t care that much about temp, I just want to be able use them as a WiFi/HomeKit mesh network. I’ll buy 4 as soon as that happens. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 26
    nicholfdnicholfd Posts: 394member
    dewme said:
    The most likely answer is that it is to correct for how the audio is heard. Since temperature and humidity affect how sound is heard it makes great sense to put something like this in. 
    That doesn't really make sense.  People have been making sound reproduction devices for more than a century and none (that I know of) employ temp and humidity sensors to affect the sound.  Your claim sounds a bit dubious, if I'm honest.  Perhaps you have more info to support it.  The most obvious reason it doesn't make sense?  The sensor is inactive so it couldn't be contributing to how sound is heard.  

    This is most likely for a future Homekit elements like smart thermostat, humidifier, space heater, air conditioner, etc.
    I agree with the latter post and speculation that this sensor pair is most likely targeting a smart home related function, like feedback for a smart thermostat and HVAC. The first post is entirely correct that sound propagation is absolutely affected by temperature, humidity, and also atmospheric pressure. If you live fairly close to a highway or railroad tracks that you only notice at night when the temperature drops you know all about temperature related sound diffraction. However, I would not expect that temperature or humidity related diffraction would be significant enough to notice within the small listening area and volume that a HomePod Mini is designed to support. But who knows, without doing the math.

    It's also possible that these sensors are used to prevent the device from being operated outside of the temperature and humidity specifications. But since it's not hooked up, whatever it may be used for is a mystery.
    It is hooked up.  People are speculating it is not doing anything.
    dewmerandominternetpersonwatto_cobra
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