After thermostat, Nest smartens up smoke detectors with Protect

After thermostat, Nest tackles smoke detectors with Protect

The rumors were correct: Nest, the company founded by former Apple iPod boss Tony Fadell, unveiled their second product today - it's called Protect, and it reinvents the household smoke detector the same way that Nest reinvented the thermostat.

"Safety shouldn't be annoying" is the slogan Nest is using for Protect, and that's the design philosophy in a nutshell - smoke alarms too often go off when we burn something on the stove or start chirping in the middle of the night when batteries run low. Too often our solution is simply to disconnect the detector all together.

Nest aims to make the smoke detector an interactive and more friendly device - you can wave at it to shut it off in the event of a small kitchen disaster; it works with the Nest Thermostat and will shut off your gas furnace if it detects carbon monoxide. There's an accompanying app that gives you status information, and Protect even has a built in (optional) nightlight if you'd like it to light your way to the bathroom at 3 in the morning.

Pre-orders are now being accepted; Protect costs $129. It will come in white or black and will be available in wired or battery-powered versions.

Have you ever had trouble with your smoke detector going off when it shouldn't? Does Protect seem like a good option? Sound off in the comments - I want to know what you think.

Peter Cohen

Managing Editor of iMore, Mac and gaming specialist and all-around technologist. Follow him on Twitter @flargh

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There are 11 comments. Add yours.

renagerie says:

I liked my first Nest so much that I went ahead and got a second for upstairs. They are pricey, but provide a good amount of functionality for the price.

While the Protect has some nice features, it represents a much more expensive proposition as I have many more smoke detectors than thermostats. I was really hoping that it would be a central device with less expensive satellite devices.

A quick Amazon search finds a well-rated combo smoke & CO detector with voice notifications for ~$32 (or ~$160 for a pack of 6).

pattylt says:

The shutoff of the gas furnace if it detects CO is a spot on feature well worth the price. I agree it is pricey but I don't see the need to replace all my detectors with this. One nearest the furnace area should be enough with a second in the kitchen purchased later will be my plan. I live in Colorado and work at a hospital. We see way too many CO poisonings every winter.

Obsidian71 says:

A $130 Smoke Detector. LOL. FYI CO detectors should be located a knee height because CO is heavier than air so a ceiling mounted detector isn't an ideal location. Plus they should be located in different areas than your smoke detector. People don't put your family at risk because someone wants to charge you an exorbitant price. Ugly and beige works just fine.

betsuni says:

CO is not heavier than air.

GlennRuss says:

I have a smoke, and CO2 in one detector that cost $35.00, and it runs off AA batteries. It works great, and holds battery life for some time. The Nest products are nice, but to me too expensive. Yes I have several $35.00 detectors, and some located knee high as Obsidian71 points out. That is a good tip.

RMCSteve says:

Here in the states you can get a Iris home automation system from Lowes. The base unit costs $99, and smoke + CO detector is $40. This is a much more integrated solution which delivers a better value given that you can have multiple fire/co detectors, water leak sensors, thermostats, and the ability turn on/off specific lights and appliances when the fire alarm goes off, not to mention receive text alerts when the batteries are getting low.

toddtmw says:

I wrote a rant about smoke detectors a few years ago.

In it, this is exactly what I asked for!

jwashok says:

BRILLANT! Have a Nest thermostat & love it. Bot 3 Protect devices. Hoping for next device to be security oriented & eliminate need for $40+ monthly monitoring service. Only improvement I have to suggest is in event of emergency it actually announces rooms with activity so firefighters could more easily find peeps in the house.

rmanapat says:

Amazon's best selling Smoke/CO detectors will run you $31. At $129, I don't think this is something that would get much attention. I hope that at that price point, Nest didn't put too much expectation that it'll be a successful product. Also, it should do more that what they've stated. If this has a camera or maybe a built-in wireless extender, then maybe I'll spend that much money.

I'm sure that eventually, we will see a Nest bundle pack that would include Nest Thermostat and maybe a minimum of 2 Protect for $399.

davidbowser says:

These are not for everyone, but neither are iPhones. I understand the criticisms about this being more expensive than some decent alternatives, but having Nest thermostats in my house made me appreciate intelligent devices that replace ones that are traditionally dumb. I am relatively sure that if I spent the effort on investigating thermostat options and then learning how each choice worked and so forth, I could have come away with maybe $80-100 more dollars in my pocket and a solid solution. The flip side is that installing and operating the Nest was SO easy that I made back the $100 in the several hours that I would have spent comparing and contrasting options. *Protip* - put a cost/hour for your own time spent, and "free time" starts to look different.

In addition to what will likely be a quick and painless install (based on my previous experience with Nest), the ability to have the voice notification tell you which device is alarming from across the house is valuable to me. My kitchen is on the other side of the house, so if any doors are closed in between, it would be unlikely that we would hear a smoke alarm until the smoke reached our room.

ggore says:

I had a Nest and it worked fine for a year, then unbeknownst to me it started turning on the heat while the AC was running, putting such pressure on the compressor that it burned out, causing me to have to spend $2000 on a new outdoor unit. A check of Nest's support site showed this is a common problem with no solution as yet. Nest users should be careful and monitor their systems carefully. My situation occurred even though the device was set to AC-only, by the way, there should have been no way the heat could come on, but it did.