Nest suspends sales of smoke alarm over safety issues

Google-owned Nest has suspended sales of its smoke and carbon monoxide alarm, Nest Protect. The Nest Protect is an intelligent smoke alarm that has Wi-Fi connectivity, six different types of sensors, an illumination lamp, status indicator and connects to your iPhone to keep you in control and updated. Unfortunately, Nest has discovered a potential issue with the unit that relates to the Nest Wave feature. Nest Wave allows users to turn off the alarm with the wave of a hand. It looks like this feature can be accidentally activated during a real emergency. 

Nest has not had any official reports from users in regards to this particular issue. Currently they're recommending, for the time being, to deactivate the feature until a permanent fix can be discovered. Nest has suspended sales of the unit on its website and has given current owners a couple of different options to temporarily remedy the issue.

If current Nest owners have their unit connected to a Nest online account it will automatically update itself to the new settings within 24 hours. Nest owners that do not have their unit connected online to a Nest online account can follow a detailed set of instructions and have their unit updated. Lastly, if you do not have access to update your Nest, they will accept your unit back for a full refund. There is no word on how long it may take to create a permanent solution. 

Source: AppAdvice via Nest

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29 Comments

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I considered their smoke detector earlier this year, but decided against it. It just strikes me as over-engineering something. For a life-saving device like a smoke detector, you've got to keep the electronics as simple as possible.

Firmware update cannot resolve any bad design (trust me). This a known rule into industrial instrumentation. Personnaly I will never buy this stuff.

the issue is a software issue anyway, so... yes.

That's like saying a software update can't change windows features.

m4rco 7070 said,
It's refreshing to see a company so proactive when it comes to safety. So rare these days.
Hardly surprising when their very reputation depends on it. The first news report about how the "feature" caused the alarm to be deactivated by mistake and resulted in injury or loss of life, there goes their company up in flames.

This is one of them things that you don't need to put in a complex computer and internet to make it better. Smoke alarms just work, and that's good enough.

It will help knowing which room is on fire faster, which in itself can easily save lives.
Add in to it that if you go away for more then a few days for some reason and the moment you close the door behind you, the batteries run low and start going in their last 24 hour annoying beep cycle... Yeah, great. Yeah people should pay attention to their smoke alarms and keep them in working order, but most people don't.

I'm not a fan of having everything connected to the internet or being "smart" like toasters, fridges and vacuums.
But for smoke alarms and such this development is going to save lives.

True to a point, although I wholeheartedly agree that there are too many mundane things being computerised, I think that the Nest does actually bring a few extra tricks to the table.

How many times have you taken the battery out of a smoke alarm, either to change it or because of false alarms? I've not used a nest but the ability to silence it from your Phone/Tablet seems useful to me and would probably mitigate that issue.

Also, adding a CO detector is an extra step, but also quite useful. Especially for those who run flue less gas appliances or have a light workshop environment, less devices to worry about/forget and again, swap batteries for. In most fires where a smoke alarm is present but fails to trigger is because it ran out of battery or was removed.

The light is also a handy feature, especially if the building is blacked out with smoke.

I think nest have brought some decent options, but I think things like the computerised fridge aren't going anywhere, and I'm yet to see a decent bit of wearable tech. Even glass isn't _quite_ perfect.

I do not agree, And i have personal reasons why. But first.

When you start to do this, especially on a product that will save lives, there are trade offs that have to be maid, and adding computers increases its complexity, and intern, its point of failures.

The hole wave to tern off is a good example: This is something that can be done with the good old trusty button. But now your adding in motion sensors and software. It needs to calculate whether or not you meant to tern it off. It needs to filter out background noise. Its cool, but the trade off is bugs and misinterpretation.

The WiFi thing? OK. It can transmit data, and its running through the internet. This now leaves it vulnerable to the mercy of a fickle internet connection, Even more true when it comes to mobile data. It can also receive data, and that means that it is now vulnerable to hackers.

The fire alarm system at my apartment is always beeping, saying that there is a fault. The smoke alarm in my friends room kept going off, because the central computer was telling the alarm to go off when there was no need.

Now for the kicker from personal experience: The room above me went up in flames, and the central computer did not set off the building fire alarm. I smelt smoke, and the first thing i checked was my computer to see if it was over heating, then i checked the kitchen. I assumed that it was just someone having a bonfire near by, as I did not see that anything was a miss. It was not until i was going to pop out to the store that i noticed the elevator saying FIRE on its LED display, and the fire vents being wide open on my floor. I look through the window of the door leading to the hall, and there were the fire fighters looking back, wondering why i was still in the building.

That is why I don't agree with computerizing these things more then is needed. If the point is to wake you up, and emit a loud sound to let you know there is a fire so you can get out the building. Then it should be built to do that job with as minimal points of failure as you can avoid.

Increasing complexity does not automatically mean increasing its points of failures. Or well, many of the added points of failure can be handled by simple "Error your smoke detector is causing issues" and thus should still increase survival rate.

WiFi issues can be fixed and secured.

Just cause some "smart systems" have their issues, does not mean we shouldn't continue developing it. And step by step it gets better and improved. These smart systems are all quite in their infancy.

Blame the building fire on a bad implementation of a smart system. A smoke detector should still be able to function without a central computer backing it. This can be easily done.

And proper complex written systems can be as stable as the most sturdy simple system.

These systems can save a lot more lives then the old "conventional" smoke detectors. (for one, how would you know it actually works without constant manual checking and testing)

Auzeras said,
True to a point, although I wholeheartedly agree that there are too many mundane things being computerised, I think that the Nest does actually bring a few extra tricks to the table.

How many times have you taken the battery out of a smoke alarm, either to change it or because of false alarms? I've not used a nest but the ability to silence it from your Phone/Tablet seems useful to me and would probably mitigate that issue.

Also, adding a CO detector is an extra step, but also quite useful. Especially for those who run flue less gas appliances or have a light workshop environment, less devices to worry about/forget and again, swap batteries for. In most fires where a smoke alarm is present but fails to trigger is because it ran out of battery or was removed.

The light is also a handy feature, especially if the building is blacked out with smoke.

I think nest have brought some decent options, but I think things like the computerised fridge aren't going anywhere, and I'm yet to see a decent bit of wearable tech. Even glass isn't _quite_ perfect.

Depends on how old your place is and where you live... Here in Philadelphia the situation you just described is against the building code. All homes are required, by law, to have a smoke detector in various places around the house (inside bedrooms, hallways outside bedrooms, etc.) and all smoke alarms are required to have AC power, battery backup, and to be interconnected (so when one goes off they all do).

Due to code, no I have never taken the battery out of a smoke detector to shut it up. It wouldn't really do anything... I would have to disconnect both AC power and remove the battery. At that point it is just simpler to press the hush button on the device.

Also, adding a CO detector isn't an extra step... They sell Smoke & Carbon Monoxide detectors in one device... I have one in my basement. It also does voice alarms ("Fire detected" or "Carbon Monoxide detected") and costs a ton less than a Nest.

All of my smoke detectors also have status lights to alert you to loss of AC, dead or dying battery, etc...

I agree with Ad Man Gamer. The smoke detector is something that shouldn't be getting additional complexity. If it is, it should be extremely well tested. People's lives are at stake...

Honestly, I don't really understand the need for a Nest Smoke Detector at all. They are far too expensive... Building code requires that I have interconnected alarms with AC power in quite a few places. I would need to replace 12 smoke detectors with Nest to satisfy code (as NEST can't interconnect with anything BUT NEST). Spending over $1200 on smoke alarms so I can silence from my phone seems a little silly. Even the voice prompts are silly. If the alarm is going off and you aren't cooking then get out...

Lord Method Man said,
Ouch. That sounds like a big pain for older homes. I know if I had to do that with the alarms in my house it would be a wiring nightmare.

Yeah it is required for anything built after 1992 in Philadelphia.

Shadowzz said,
It will help knowing which room is on fire faster, which in itself can easily save lives.

By the time you have open a laptop or computer to check the nest system what room is on fire, you should probably have evacuated the house, not stopping to pick up laptops or ipads.

And for the price of multiple NEST alarms you could get a professional fire alarm system with a console at the entrance that has labelled lights marking where the alarm has gone off, probably even with a map.

Also modern optical alarms rarely go off on false alarms. if that's an issue replace your old alarms, and replace all your old ion alarms anyway. while before they suggested different alarms for different rooms. modern testing has shown that modern optical alarms trigger faster than ion alarms and even on the fire types the ion alarms are supposed to trigger the cheap ones may not trigger at all and the expensive ones are MUCH to slow and a optical goes off MINUTES earlier.


basically they don't even sell ion alarms here anymore.

HawkMan said,

By the time you have open a laptop or computer to check the nest system what room is on fire, you should probably have evacuated the house, not stopping to pick up laptops or ipads.

And for the price of multiple NEST alarms you could get a professional fire alarm system with a console at the entrance that has labelled lights marking where the alarm has gone off, probably even with a map.


Yeah checking the notification on your phone is horrible. There's apps on the phones for it, no need to boot up your last centuries 486.
If your house is on fire, a phone is quite important. It is today and has been since we got 911/112.

And ? again, for the price of these NESTS you have to install you can install a pro fire alarm system that will automatically inform the fire department and tell them what room is on fire.

And no, unless the phone is right there. it's not the thing you should pick up when evacuating the house. you evacuate, then you go to the neighbour then you call 911/112.

Shadowzz said,
yeah ofc you're right man. NESTS are completely useless to everyone in the world.

Geesh

Point is they're not worth the price

Nice to see a company actively doing testing on current products to discover any issues and then to notify everyone after. Good form.