'Father of the iPod' sets his sights on the venerable smoke detector

'Father of the iPod' sets his sights on the venerable smoke detector

Summary: After conquering the home thermostat, former Apple employee (and member of the original iPod team) Tony Fadell launches Nest Protect, a smoke and carbon monoxide detector for the iPhone generation.

'Father of the iPod' sets his sights on the venerable smoke detector - Jason O'Grady
(Image: Nest)

Nest co-founder Tony Fadell is widely considered to the "father of the iPod" having overseen 18 generations of the ubiquitous device during his Apple tenure. He also bears the distinction of being one of the few Apple executives to leave Apple to for another company. 

As an owner of Nest's first product, the Nest Learning Thermostat (which I reviewed in May 2012) I was excited to receive the following email about the company's second product, a smoke and carbon monoxide detector called Nest Protect:

"It’s time for the next big idea from Nest. And we want you to be the first to know about it. We’ve reinvented the smoke alarm. Rather than yelling at you for burning the toast, Nest Protect gives you a friendly Heads-Up. You can even silence false alarms with a wave of your hand instead of a towel. And in an emergency, it tells you what the danger is and where it is. Nest Protect can also get in touch with your smartphone. You’ll get a message when the batteries run low so you can replace them and avoid the dreaded low-battery chirp at midnight."

Naturally, there's a demo video:

Nest Protect, like it's thermostat cousin, is the un-smoke detector. It aims to solve all the problems with the traditional home smoke detector.

  • Burn the toast? No problem. "Before turning on a loud, howling alarm, Nest Protect gives you an early warning we call Heads-Up. Nest Protect lights up yellow and speaks with a human voice."

  • Ever wave a newspaper to silence your smoke detector? "If there’s a nuisance alarm, just stand under Nest Protect and wave your arm to hush the alert."

  • Hate that annoying beep? In addition to an alarm sound, Nest Protect speaks to you with a human voice. My kids will love this, because they're young and our current hardware-store smoke detector scares them when it sounds.

  • It's also a carbon monoxide detector, which are now required by law in 39 U.S. states.

  • In fact, if Nest Protect’s carbon monoxide alarm goes off, your Nest Thermostat automatically turns off your gas furnace as a safety precaution. (Gas furnaces are a possible source of carbon monoxide leaks.)

And, of course, it works with the iPhone and iPad:

Nest Protect works with the iPhone - Jason O'Grady

Nest Protect is available for pre-order for $129 in either black or white and either wired (120-volt) or battery-powered.

Some people will have trouble justifying the Nest Protect, especially when smart smoke and monoxide detectors are bundled with many home security installations. My ZDNet colleague Jason Perlow notes that many home security vendors are also now in the smart thermostat business as well. 

For me Nest Protect looks like a home run because it doesn't come with a monthly bill. Stay tuned for full review in these pages soon and post your thoughts in the TalkBack below. 

Topic: Apple

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  • well

    $25 $129. I'll take the $25 unit that does all it's supposed to do and keeps me safe. You spend nearly $100 more if you'd like. I'm sure that networking makes you safer.

    Of course if you NEED that, there are many much cheaper solutions. This is another over priced product. Just like the Nest. Keep it.
    • If it gets rid of that $%@#$%^ chirp you can't find, it is more well spent.

      I have no idea how much I DISLIKE the "chirp" starting at 2:30 am when the house is coldest and the battery the weakest and you spend 30 minutes trying to isolate the once per 2-3 minute chirp as it echoes in the house.
      • better yet if tells you the location where it is.

        in my home all fire alarms are networked(interconnected)
        so when one sounds all will. the only way to know which one is actually the one giving a signal is to look at each one and see where the red light blinks the most.

        once I had the blasted thing chirping in the atic , I spend an hour trying to find it.
      • Best way to isolate it

        is to call someone and have a conversation on the phone. Let them know your fire/CO alarm is dying, and they'll probably only hear the chirp if they're in the same room with you.

        At least that's the game I played when I did tech support years and years ago.
      • Oh, don't they drive you round the bend?

        And why is it they ALWAYS chirp in the middle of the night?
        Laraine Anne Barker
    • Hmmm

      $25 vs $129... not getting notifications while on vacay vs getting notifications while on vacay. nope, not that hard of a decision after all. And if the Protector is like the Nest as far as it's learning capacity then yes indeed that's something I'm going to consider.
    • $25?

      Where do you get the $25 figure? Is that how much you are/were charged for an off-the-shelf, basic no-frills smoke detector at your local hardware store?
      Jim Kirk
  • Anthony is great, but this "father of iPod" thing got ridiculous long time

    ... ago already, because John Rubinstein also calls himself "father of iPod". (And in reality Jobs was the father, his idea; Fadell and Rubinstein were great in implementing it.)
  • wouldn't count on it

    The web is rife with complaints of the Nest intermittently disconnecting from the internet. The company blames the users and has not fixed the problem. I would not consider buying something like this until the company proves it has a system that will not fail. Smoke detector failure would be a problem imo.
    • My thought exactly!

      "Smoke detector failure would be a problem imo."

      Amazing how we can turn something so simple and reliable into something complex.
    • Is the "disconnect" from the internet a failure of the thermostat?

      Is the Nest incapable of controlling the temperature while it is not connected to the internet or are you just talking about things you don't understand?
      • Most of theses thermostats are wired directly to the furnace

        in the traditional manner that the standard thermostats of years past were, with some on their own wireless connection, though those systems are typically part of a system with remotely controlled multi zone air dampeners or water heat, usually from a retrofit.

        The Internet ready feature is just a way of accessing it it outside of the home.
    • You do know

      That these units are hardwired - at least the Nest T-stats - so that they will control the HVAC systems regardless. The loss if internet could be something with the router, something with the connection... so I can see not placing the blame on the Nest.
  • I have a Nest thermostat, been using it a little over two months now

    I like how programmable it is and how I can control it from anywhere. I don't know if it saves me any money yet because I have not had it long enough to tell. As for disconnecting from the network, the only problems I have had is when my 4G broadband blinks out for a few minutes (not often).

    I got mine for free when I re-uped my electric provider contract.
    • How often do you do these things?

      Serious question. It's a thermostat...I programmed mine and have left it alone except to change the batteries or clear the filter change alert.

      I liken this to the Sleep Number Bed. Sounds cool in theory but how often do you change it once you've found your number? I bet most people don't change it much if at all.
      • You Are Correct

        I check my sleep number bed about once a month and rarely make changes. Most changes are due to ambient temperature changes from my wild swings in thermostat settings. In the winter, my house is set to 55 degrees until just before wakeup time at 72 degrees, then down to 45 for the day until I come home and it goes to 68 until nighty-night (weekdays).

        And yes, I've tried other programs and it does NOT take more energy to "warm-up" or "cool-off" the home due to temperature extremes - I proved it to myself.
        • 72 degrees would have me in summer clothes

          I hate wasting fuel. It's hard work turning a tree into burnable logs. So we try to keep our house at 18 degrees C (about 64-65 deg F). Unless you happen to own no winter clothing, that's sufficient.
          Laraine Anne Barker
  • Swing and a miss

    Much as I love to see companies innovating in a space that desperately needs it, (Seriously? Who thought the battery chirp with no prior warning was a good idea?) who on earth is going to spend $130 per detector? Modern fire codes call for one in each bedroom plus one per floor. Suburban houses with finished basements can easily have 7 smoke detectors. That's $910 to change them all over to Nest. I suppose you could just change one so you get notifications if other hard wired alarms go off, but that negates many of the benefits (Battery warnings, wave-off, etc) for all the others.

    This sounds nice, but it's much cheaper to simply buy 10-year lithium batteries for $25 alarms so that you need not worry about midnight chirps. If Nest can create a cheaper secondary hardwired model that works with the $130 one, for around $40 - then maybe I'd bite.
  • My question is on CO detection

    Considering that the tech we have for CO detection currently lasts around 5 to 7 years, do you just toss the whole thing out when the CO detector portion goes bad or is there a replacement sensor?
  • No use to me

    I don't have one of those fancy iPhones or iPods so this is more useless tech.