The Nest Protect smart smoke detector is flying back to select retail shelves after its maker Nest Labs pulled it out of stores when it discovered a safety hazard that could turn off the alarm in case of a real fire.
The high-tech smoke detector, which also functions as a carbon monoxide detector, is now available for purchase, with a lower price tag of $99 compared to its launch price of $119. The price cut indicates that Nest Labs has taken out Nest Wave, the feature that prompted the maker of highly-praised smart home devices to take back the Nest Protect and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to issue a recall of more than 440,000 smoke detectors.
Nest Wave was one of the prime selling points of the Nest Protect because it allowed users to turn off false alarms raised by, say, a burning toast simply by waving the hand in front of the device. However, in April, Nest Labs chief executive Tony Fadell wrote in a blog post that it has found in regular testing that the smoke detector could misconstrue other gestures as a hand wave and potentially turn off the alarm in the event of a real fire or carbon monoxide events.
"Once we have a solution that ensures Nest Wave works as intended, we will update our software to turn this feature on," wrote Fadell on the Nest Labs blog. "This will only happen after extensive testing and once we have received approval from safety agencies in the U.S., Canada and U.K."
The Google-owned company, however, has not yet come up with a solution to the problem posed by Nest Wave, and users will have to turn off the alarm by pushing a button similar to that found in conventional smoke detectors until Nest Labs engineers have found a way to resolve the Nest Wave limitation. That doesn't mean the Nest Protect, which has a variety of unique features not found in most devices, is no longer worth its $99 price tag.
For instance, the Wi-Fi-connected smart smoke detector can send users a notification to their smartphones if the alarm goes off, but stops short of contacting the fire department. Because the device is connected to the Internet, Nest Labs can issue updates to older devices simply by sending them through users' Nest accounts without requiring customers to buy newer devices.
Nest Labs also makes use of user data to "constantly improve our products" and help customers stay safe. For instance, the company recently released a white paper on what it calls its "groundbreaking research" on carbon monoxide events. Nest Labs says that around 0.15% of homes had a carbon monoxide event between November 2013 and May 2014, with events ranging from three minutes to 24 hours.