Having already re-invented the humble thermostat, the team led by former Apple engineers at Nest Labs recently turned their attention to another electronic device that hasn’t changed in years. The result is an Internet-connected smoke alarm called Protect that can be silenced with the wave of a hand, instead of the traditional wailing alarm that requires a ladder to deactivate.
The smoke detector connects to a Wi-Fi network and is equipped with motion- and smoke-detection sensors so that when it starts beeping, it can be silenced with a simple hand movement. Instead of incessant, rapid beeping, Protect beeps intermittently and a robot voice alerts the home owner about what is happening, with messages like “Heads-up, there’s smoke in the bedroom” or “Emergency, there’s smoke.” The notifications can also can be sent to the home owner’s smartphone using an accompanying Nest app.
Smoke is the leading cause of civilian fire-related deaths according to the National Fire Protection Association, and talking about existing life-saving devices, Matt Rogers, a founder of Nest Labs and former Apple engineer said:
It’s designed to keep you safe, but you take out the batteries.
While there’s no doubt the device is an appealing alternative to what currently exists, it will still have to compete with other established companies such as Honeywell and Lux. Add to that the fact that Protect costs $130, compared with around $30 for a traditional device, it’s likely to be a long journey to the top.