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Summary:

Nest is halting the sales of its smoke detector product while it tries to fix a flaw that could delay the alarm notifying the homeowner of a fire. A solution could take months.

Nest Protect

Nest will halt the sale of its smoke detectors while it tries to solve a problem with its user interface that is supposed to delay a smoke alarm, according to a CEO letter published Thursday. The company, which was recently acquired by Google, said it had detected a flaw in a feature that allows consumers to wave their hands to turn off the alarm. Apparently the feature could be turned on unintentionally.

Nest advises customers who purchased the Nest Protect to disable that feature (or wait and Nest will disable it for you) or send their Nest Protects back for a full refund. As Nest states in its FAQ on the recall.

We discovered that movements near the product that are not intended as a wave can be misinterpreted by the Nest Wave algorithm. If this occurs during a fire, this could delay the alarm going off. So, we are disabling this feature until we have a proper solution.

Nest launched the Nest Protect smoke detectors last October, as part of its stated crusade to improve another unloved device in the home. The company is perhaps better known for its popular learning thermostat, but even the $129 price tag for the alarm wasn’t scaring away buyers. I know several people who have them and reviewers gushed over the device.

Unfortunately, one of the reviewer’s favorite features was the one that is now causing the problem — waving at the detector to turn it off. Nest has remotely turned that feature off now that it has determined there is an issue. From the CEO letter:

We feel that the best and safest thing to do is to immediately disable the Nest Wave feature to resolve the issue and remove any safety concerns. While we fix Nest Wave, we have also halted sales of all new Nest Protect alarms to ensure no one buys an alarm that needs an immediate update.

Nest expects the fix for Protect within the next two to three months. However, new products will have to be re-certified before hitting the market, which could take an undetermined amount of time. In the meantime, users will have to press a button on the Protect to silence an alarm — just like one does with their dumber, uglier detectors.

  1. This company just annoys me to no end. Trying to Apple-ify ordinary devices that worked just fine. Now everything in your home needs a software patch.

    1. JenniferDawn sly Friday, April 4, 2014

      agreed…this thing is worthless.

      Although, I do give them props for not pulling a ‘General Motors’ and waiting until someone burns to death before recalling their product!

  2. I’ve so far seen no reason to buy Nest products. The thermostat doesn’t save money over a more reasonably priced honeywell programmable thermostat and now the expensive as hell smoke detector is less safe than something that costs under $10. How did Google just assume they were worth so much without ensuring their products actually did what they advertised!?

  3. Bernard Maltais Thursday, April 3, 2014

    I think it might have more to do with this: https://community.nest.com/message/23473?et=watches.email.thread#23473

    This is just a convenient way to save face and fix a major hardware design issue. I am sure they will eventually send us all existing users new units based on a new hardware design. I am one of those who had those false alarm… and trust me, this was a bad experience.

    I stuck with the Protect since they replaced all my units (two of which gave false alarms) knowing that they would eventually fix the issue. I bet this is it.

  4. Personally, I prefer the First Alert Atom if your house doesn’t have wired detectors. Super tiny and work really great and I can buy a whole house of them for the price of one Protect.

  5. Is this the future of “The Internet of Everything?” Take a simple device that works — jazz it up — connect to the internet — add ‘bells and whistles” — only to find out the the basic device doesn’t work any more!

  6. Nice to know that Google/Nest can reach into my home and turn things off at will. Not sure I want to go down that path.

  7. Spiffy jumper Tuesday, April 8, 2014

    Madlyb…
    I also have an Atom…
    It doesn’t sense Cabon Monoxide.

  8. Spiffy jumper Tuesday, April 8, 2014

    Archonic…
    “Something under $10’…?
    Really?
    Probably doesn’t do CO, or notify you by smart phone that something is wrong at home.

  9. Spiffy jumper Tuesday, April 8, 2014

    Tony,
    I agree with your misgivings about Google/Nest reaching into my home to turn things off.
    I am a big boy, and I want the Wave to silence feature, and Google/ Nest can notify me that it may lead to unexpected operation, but they don’t need to be my nanny.

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