Nest Labs makes the boring smoke detector exciting with Protect

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nest labs, nest, learning thermostat, smoke detector, protect, tony fadell

Nest Labs has officially unveiled their latest household appliance, a smoke detector. Known as the Nest Protect, the company hopes it will do for boring smoke detectors what the Learning Thermostat did for boring thermostats – make them more appealing and easy to use.

As was rumored last month, the Nest Protect will ship with a wealth of features designed to turn the nuisance of a smoke detector (low battery chip, false alarms, anyone?) into a pleasant and useful device. Turns out, that low battery warning you often hear at night is a result of a simple design flaw.

Temperatures typically drop at night which means the batteries cool down. This inadvertently triggers the alarm’s low power sensor which in turn triggers a lot of angry sleepers to get up and disconnect the battery. According to Nest, some 66 percent of fire-related deaths in the home may have been prevented if users hadn’t disconnected the battery in their smoke detector.

The Protect is packed full of useful sensors including those for fire, carbon monoxide, heat, light, motion and ultrasonic waves. Rather than just sound an alarm at full blast the moment a whiff of smoke is detected (say for instance, you burn something on the stove), Protect will sound a vocal warning. In the event you are in another room, the motion sensor will detect this and beam the warning to the nearest Protect using Wi-Fi.

The alarm can even send a push notification to your phone and the LED ring on the device will turn from green (everything is normal) to yellow (something is awry). If you determine it is a false alarm, simply wave your hand near the Protect or dismiss the notification on your phone. Should the smoke not clear up, however, a full-scale alarm will be triggered (with accompanying red LED flashes).

When the system’s batteries are on the low side, the LED ring will glow yellow and a vocal message will let you know what’s up (along with a push notification). If Protect detects carbon monoxide, it will send a shut-off command to your Nest thermostat to turn off your gas furnace.

Even when everything is fine, the Protect is still useful. For example, if you wake up in the middle of the night to use the restroom or get something from the fridge, the motion sensor will detect movement and the LED ring will glow white to help light your way.

The Nest Protect is slated to hit stores by the end of the month in the US for $129. It’ll be available in two different models – one powered by 120V and the other by two AA batteries - and in two different colors: white or black.

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