Possible defect halts sales of Google’s Nest smoke detector

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04/09/2014

It was big news early this year when Google decided to buy Nest Labs, a  California-based maker of smart smoke detectors and thermostats, for $3.2 billion. But now it appears that Nest Lab’s intelligent new smoke/carbon monoxide detector isn’t as smart as billed. News reports say sales of the device have been stopped because it’s possible users can deactivate it without meaning to do so.

The smoke/CO detector, called Nest Protect, is so smart it can talk to home residents to warn them if there’s a fire or dangerous levels of CO. But now a feature of the device that allows users to simply wave at it to turn it off has been identified as a potential problem and sales have been halted, Reuters reported this week.

Here’s more of what that news service had to say:
 

Nest co-founder and Chief Executive Tony Faddell said that, under a unique set of circumstances the alarm's "Nest Wave" feature, which allows a user to switch off the device with a wave of the hand, could be inadvertently activated.

Faddell, one of the creators of Apple Inc.’s iPod, apologized in the blogpost for a problem that was discovered during recent laboratory testing. He added that no customer had complained so far.

"We observed a unique combination of circumstances that caused us to question whether the Nest Wave could be unintentionally activated. This could delay an alarm going off if there was a real fire," he said. "The fact that it could even potentially happen is extremely important to me and I want to address it immediately."

He did not specify that set of circumstances.

Nest will immediately disable the Wave feature—one of many innovative design elements that has won the company and its devices acclaim—in all smoke alarms that are Wi-Fi-connected while it works on a software update to fix the possible defect. It said the fix, plus regulatory approvals, could take two to three months to complete.

Customers without Wi-Fi-connected devices should either disable it or return it for a full refund, the company added.

Security experts have said the industry should take note of Google’s Nest Labs buy, saying this first venture by Google into the connected home could portend more Google home automation products and possibly a security offering.