Nest halts the sale of Nest Protect smoke alarms while it fixes a flaw

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.

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