Former Apple VP's Nest Protect: A smoke alarm Steve Jobs could love?
October 8, 2013
Say you're a former Apple engineer and VP. Now say you leave the company, but you just can't shake your hankerin' to take clunky products, simplify them, and make them consumer-friendly. What do you do? Well, if you're Tony Fadell, then you found your own company that gives boring and complicated home sensors an Apple-like makeover. After finding success with its Nest thermostat, Fadell's Nest Labs is now expanding into the realm of smoke alarms.
Nest Protect is Fadell's (known in some circles as the Father of the iPod) new smoke detector, and it follows the same trajectory that his company started two years ago with the Nest thermostat. Like the thermostat, Nest Protect is a small, elegantly-designed device that's about as different as it could be from that industrial-looking, white smoke alarm you're probably using right now.
Have you ever had your smoke alarm go haywire just because an errant toast crumb fell onto the wrong heating coil? Nest Protect helps you to avoid this situation, by speaking in a human voice when it's approaching alarm levels. If you do get to the point where its alarm goes off for no good reason, a simple wave from below silences it. No ladders, removing of batteries, or chucking the alarm across the room necessary.
If there is an actual emergency, then Nest Protect tells you exactly what's happening. In addition to the expected beeping sound, the voice will chime in to tell you "Heads up: there's smoke in the living room." Protect also senses carbon monoxide and motion. If there's carbon monoxide in the air, it will communicate with your Nest thermostat (if you have one) to turn off your gas furnace, a common cause of CO leaks. Protect even uses that motion sensor to light your path if you walk under it at night. It then dims after you pass.
One of Nest's primary ways of communicating with you is via its ring-shaped light. A green light means all systems are go. A yellow light means there's either trouble brewing, or a battery in need of changing. Red, naturally, means there's a potential emergency in the works. Like the Nest thermostat, Protect also syncs with your smartphone or tablet (iOS or Android) to let you know if your batteries are low. It will even alert a pre-selected contact in case of an emergency.
In many ways, Nest is planting seeds in home appliances similar to those Apple laid in portable computing a decade ago. As Fadell says, "it was never just about thermostats." The Father of the iPod is Apple-ifying your home, one small appliance at a time. If things continue to go as planned, perhaps we'll eventually see Nest home security systems, dishwashers, and kitchen sinks.
Nest Protect doesn't yet have a release date, but it will retail for US$130. If you're wanting your smoke alarm to act a bit more like an Apple product from the Steve Jobs era, you can pre-order Nest Protect from the source link below.