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Nest: The Smoke Detector Reinvented

Everyone knows the sound of a dying smoke detector, the slow irritating beeping. This causes many residents to simply remove the nine volt battery and replace it later. During the holidays when the smells of food waft through every home, there is always the reminder that you should have turned on your hood fan, or have one installed. The sensitivity of the smoke detectors is something that many cooking enthusiasts dread, and once again the battery is removed. This is problematic and dangerous, considering it leaves a room, a house or a whole apartment building extremely susceptible to a fire without any notice. Most apartment buildings have an integrated fire alarm system or sprinkler system, which saves millions of lives a year. But the traditional design of fire alarms is something most residents view as a nuisance rather than a life saving device.

Nest, which was purchased by Google, gave the smoke detector a much needed redesign. The Nest Protect is a traditional smoke and carbon monoxide detector, with a major computer upgrade. It’s still putting a nine volt battery in the detector and attaching it to the ceiling, but that’s not the whole installation. The Nest Protect connects to your Wi-Fi network and asks you where in the house it is. Then you download the Nest app on your smartphone and follow the step by step instructions. Once this is out of the way, you have the most advanced, least annoying, smoke detector the consumer market has seen in since 1965.

What really makes the Nest Protect less annoying is a very calm voice stating that the battery is low, not a panic inducing chirp. One simple glance at the Nest app and it tells you just how low the battery is, and which room the detector is in. Testing the Nest Protect is even more pleasant than traditional smoke detectors. The same silvery voice alerts you, “The alarm will sound”, followed by “The alarm is loud”, then said loud alarm sounds. When the Nest does detect smoke it simply stats, “There’s smoke in [room]. The alarm may sound”, this could get annoying for the chef in the family. But instead of precariously mounting a kitchen chair and removing the unit, I simple wave of the hand soothes the Nest back to a neutral state. When you install multiple Nest Protects in a home they communicate with each other. If you head off to bed, but left a candle burning in the living room, the Nest in your bedroom will alert you that there is smoke detected in the living room. When you extinguish the burning candle the Nest will alert you, “Smoke clearing. The smoke level is decreasing”. There are theorists that believe Google’s purchase of Nest is leading to some dystopian, big brother, device in homes. With all the other technological advances that Google has made in the last few years, smoke detectors seems like an odd place to start this theory. The Nest Protect is something that the smoke detector has needed for years, and it’s finally here.

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