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Possible defect halts sales of Google’s Nest smoke detector

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Wednesday, April 9, 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. 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.
 

 

 

Google gets into home automation with $3.2 billion buy of smoke alarm company

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

We wrote this fall about a new smoke/CO detector so smart it can talk to home residents and tell them if there’s a fire or dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. Now Google likes that detector—called Nest Protect—and other products made by California-based Nest Labs so much that it is buying the smoke alarm company for $3.2 billion.

The deal, announced this week, is Google’s second largest acquisition so far, after its 2012 purchase of Motorola, a mobile phone maker, according to news reports.

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that “Nest has the lion’s share of the nascent market for ‘smart’ thermostats and recently began selling smart smoke detectors.”

The WSJ also says, “Analysts and executives see Nest as a beachhead for Google to expand its place in the home.” Nest will retain its brand, according to news sources. It will be interesting to see what it and Google will do in the home automation space with Google's big bucks behind the effort.

Here’s more of what Nest had to say about its new detector back in the fall when it was released:
 

The Nest Protect detector speaks and gives users a vocal “heads up,” telling them what it detects before emitting an alarm. It can be silenced with the wave of a hand and will send messages to integrated mobile devices to ask for new batteries.

“We’ve all experienced the smoke alarm going off while we’re cooking or searched for the source of that incessant low-battery chirp in the middle of the night,” said Tony Fadell, founder and CEO of Nest. Fadell, a former Apple executive, said those annoyances lead people to trust their alarms less, or turn them off to stop the noise.

The company says studies have shown children sleep through beeps, but wake up to the sound of voices, so Nest Protect features a female voice alarm to help wake sleeping children.

Nest Protect senses heat, carbon monoxide and smoke levels as they rise to offer early warnings. The device shows its sensors and batteries are working with a green glow when lights are turned off. Multiple devices in a single home connect, sending alarms throughout the house when problems are detected.

 

New smoke/CO detector is smart

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10/11/2013

PAOLO ALTO, Calif.—Nest Protect, the smoke and carbon monoxide detector released Oct. 8 by Nest Labs, offers safety without annoyance, the company says.