Nest Stops Sales Of Intelligent Fire Alarm Due To Safety Concerns

Nest, the home electronics start-up recently acquired by Google for $3.2 billion (£2bn), has temporarily halted sales of the Nest Protect fire alarm and CO2 detector because it thinks one of its widely advertised features could put people at risk.

Protect allows owners to simply wave their hands to stop an alarm – and the company says recent laboratory tests show it could be disabled accidentally.

Nest claims it is not aware of any customers who have been put in danger due to the Wave feature. The company is working on an update, but says Protector alarms that do not have access to Wi-Fi should be disabled and returned for a complete refund.

Wave of the future

Founded by former Apple executives Tony Fadell (who reportedly didn’t get along with Jony Ive) and Matt Rogers in 2010, Nest currently develops just two household devices. The Nest Thermostat is full of sensors which can establish the number and location of people in the house, and alter the temperature accordingly. Meanwhile, the Nest Protect smoke detector can tell its owners the exact location of a possible fire, while ignoring things like burnt toast.

Headquartered in California, the company says its mission is to reinvent the “unloved” categories of home appliances and turn them into beautiful, networked devices. The Nest Thermostat was launched in the UK on Wednesday.

According to Fadell, during recent laboratory testing, Nest observed a “unique combination of circumstances” that could lead to the alarm being disabled unintentionally, presenting obvious dangers in the event of a real fire.

Because of this, all of the networked Protect units will have the Wave feature disabled automatically within 24 hours. The devices not connected to the Internet should be connected immediately in order to receive the update. The company also stopped sales of all new alarms “to ensure no one buys an alarm that needs an immediate update”.

“Once we have a solution that ensures Nest Wave works as intended, we will update our software to turn this feature back on,” said Fadell. “This will only happen after extensive testing and once we have received approval from safety agencies in the US, Canada and UK.”

Somewhat surprisingly, the CEO added it could take two to three months to completely mitigate the issue.

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Max Smolaks

Max 'Beast from the East' Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope. If you find him looking lost on the streets of London, feed him coffee and sugar.

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