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Faults in Google's NEST come home to roost?

Posted by wilkinsoncc on April 8, 2014 at 10:15 AM

Guest Blog

By Natasha Sabin


Is the Nest Protect fit for purpose?


A few months or so ago, the Nest Protect smoke and CO detector was hitting the headlines.

It was the shiny new smart detector that promised to make safety more convenient and less annoying. And it could be programmed via any internet connected device. The company that made them, Nest Labs, was Google’s latest acquisition that the conglomerate $3.2bn!

Could this be the start of the connected smart home we’ve all been dreaming of?

For example, rather than wailing at the slightest sign of burnt toast, the detector will give you an early warning. If the device does go off, you can silence it with a wave of your hand promised Google. Even better, the detector can communicate with Nest Labs’ thermostat. If too much CO is detected, your detector will be able to tell your thermostat to switch off the gas.

It sounds pretty snazzy. But are we sacrificing safety for convenience? Or does the convenience of the detectors make it easier for you to be safe? After all – it beats having a detector with a high pitched squeal that pushed you to the point of tearing it’s batteries out, thus rendering it useless.

Well first the product was hit by news of a study conducted by Consumer Reports found that the system was difficult to set up, which is a frustration when one of the detector’s boasts is that it makes life easier. Then it was discovered that the detectors are only strong at detecting a certain type of fire.  As the nest detector has a photoelectric sensor,  it’s great at detecting slow, smouldering fires. It’s not so great at picking up fast burning fires, which are best detected with an ionisation sensor, something the Nest Protect model is lacking.

And now there is worse news still as Google has admitted that the detector can be accidently turned off by one of its own key features. Nest Chief Tony Fadell was forced to admit in the London Evening Standard that the alarm can be deactivated by accident if people have waived there arms at it. Mr Faddell who previously helped Apple to develop the iPod said whilst unlikely "the fact that it can even potentially happen is extremely important to me and I want to address it immeadiately".

Sales of the product have now been halted and existing users are being advised to switch off the "gesture control" feature while it tries to fix the problem.

Natasha Sabin is a guest blogger from London City Fire Protection, specialist fire alarm installers in London. Visit their website ; to read more fire safety guides.

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