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not so safe: nest recalls hundreds of thousands of smoke alarms

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Last fall we gushed about a brand new smoke alarm that aimed to reinvent the way we protect our homes from fire. Nest — which also makes supremely smart, mobile controlled thermostats – had introduced Nest Protect. Rather than blasting out a terrifying, high pitched siren every time you burn a roast, this aesthetically pleasing alarm would alert you in a calm voice and tell you specifically what’s wrong. (“There’s a fire in the bedroom!”) Best of all — we thought! — it could be shut off with a wave of your arm, rather than a frantic fanning of newspapers or the removal of batteries to get the thing to shut up (our current M.O.). Well….

It turns out that the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) discovered a glitch that shuts down the device accidentally. I guess the “waving of the arm” technique is open to interpretation! Tony Fadell, CEO of Nest Labs, wrote a note on the company’s website back in April saying that Nest Wave will be automatically shut down. If you own one, make sure that your device is connected to a wireless network and properly linked to your account so your unit gets the software update. He says:

Once we have a solution that ensures Nest Wave works as intended, we will update our software to turn this feature back on. This will only happen after extensive testing and once we have received approval from safety agencies in the US, Canada and UK. We expect this to take at least two or three months and we’ll continue to update you as we have more information.

According to TechCrunch, this is not a physical recall but rather a software update — and Nest expects to have things up and running and back on the market in a few weeks.

Still, considering that each alarm costs over $100, and the typical home needs at least six, we expect better from Nest (which, in case you forgot, was acquired by Google early in the year for over 3 billion dollars).

Are you a Nest owner? If so we’d love to hear about your experiences here!

From our partners

the new nest protect is a cool & smart smoke detector — but is it worth the price?

Smoke detectors are a necessary, sometimes life-saving tool that can be, on occasion, annoying. They go off when you’re making brulee for your dinner party, chirp in the middle of the night when their batteries die, and create loud and brutal noises. These occasional blips seem like small things to suffer from when they do the job they are intended to do — a job that hopefully you’ll never need.

Now Nest, the company who is trying to reinvent the way we look at thermostats, has unveiled a new kind of smart smoke detector, Nest Protect. It is armed with an attention-getting yet calm voice that tells you what’s wrong (“There’s smoke in the bedroom,” it may say.), can be shut off with a wave of your arm (as opposed to frantic fanning with newspapers) and sends you an alert on your phone when the battery is low. It can even be set to glow like a nightlight. Oh, did we mention it’s pretty?

After watching the video below, you might think to yourself, yes, I need one of those! But then it hits. The price is $129 — not too bad, until you consider how many a typical house needs. We have seven. That’s nearly thousand bucks! Currently we are using a standard smoke detector that we paid about $30 bucks for. You can buy four of those for the price of one Nest Protect.


So tell us, what do you think: Are you willing to pay more for a better, smarter smoke detector?

P.S. A good rule of thumb is to change your smoke detector’s batteries on daylight savings time night… coming up soon on November 3nd!

From our partners

from the shelterrific 2112 files: couple’s alarm clock

The secret to a long and happy marriage is honesty, patience, and definitely this alarm clock. From the mind of Chinese designer Meng Fandi, the couple’s alarm clock is a vibrating set of rings. Rather than the typical, awful bleating sound of an alarm, the rings gently rouse each spouse separately depending on what time they entered into the charging cradle. To shut off the alarm, the ring is simply placed back on the charging cradle. Once these are out of the development phase and into the marketplace, couples everywhere will never have to have another snooze-alarm-related fight again.

From our partners