The Nest Protect Smart Smoke Detector

*UPDATE January 2014: Google has announced that it will purchase Nest for $3.2 billion. It is presumed that Google will use Nest technology to further its efforts in creating smart, connected homes. It is also a reflection of Google's strategy of investing more in hardware-software solutions rather than operating systems for other companys' products.*

One of the most important products in any home is the smoke detector. We usually don't ever think about them until we burn the toast and set them off, or when their low battery alert starts chirping at 3:30 in the morning. Smoke detectors, while vitally important, are kind of dumb. But now, Nest, who brought us the revolutionary Nest Learning Thermostat, have introduced another new product, the Nest Protect Smart Smoke Detector.



Nest Protect: Smoke, Carbon Monoxide, and Much More

The new Nest Protect smart smoke detector does the same job regular detectors do: alert us when there is a presence of smoke. It also detects deadly carbon monoxide gas. But it does so smartly, and it does much more.

Most smoke detectors available today use ionization technology to detect smoke. It works well, but it can't tell the difference between burnt toast smoke and smoke from a "real" fire. The piercing shriek causes us to get mad at the detector for constantly going off, which often leads to the detector being unplugged or the battery removed. It is estimated that 25% of the smoke detectors in U.S. homes are non-functioning for this very reason.

The Nest Protect replaces the 'all-or-nothing' wail of the common smoke detector with a series of warnings designed to tell you EXACTLY what is happening, and to not scare the pants off of you unless it's absolutely necessary. Here's how it works:

- Green Light: When the Nest Protect isn't detecting anything, a green light will indicate that everything is OK.

- Heads Up: If the Nest Protect detects potentially dangerous levels of smoke or carbon monoxide, the light will turn to yellow, and announce in a female voice what it's picking up, and where. If it's just dinner burning, you have the opportunity to turn off the alarm without damaging your hearing (or your nerves.) No more waving towels at the ceiling to disactivate a shrieking false-alarm. It's turned off either with a gentle 'hush' motion, pushing the large button on the unit, or via the smartphone or computer app.

- Red Means Trouble: When Nest Protect senses dangerous levels of harmful smoke or CO, the light turns red and at this point the alarm will sound. This happens even if you've already disabled the yellow-light warning. The alarm will sound, and the Nest Protect will announce the trouble (i.e., "There's smoke in the living room" or "There's carbon monoxide in the basement." The unit can also be configured to contact emergency personnel.

- Wi-Fi Enabled: The Nest Protect cis wi-fi connected to other Protects or Nest thermostats in the house, so everybody in the house knows what's going on. This also allows the unit to communicate remotely with the smartphone or computer app. You'll get instant status of the Nest Protects' status, battery strength, and emergency notifications wherever you are, even if you're not at home.