An official recall of more than 440,000 Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide detectors was issued by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) this week.
However, Nest Labs has told customers they can continue using the product safely as long as they disable units' 'Wave' function — designed to allow a user to turn off the alarm with the wave of a hand — with an automatic update.
The recall this week came more than a month after Nest Labs' CEO, Tony Fadell, told customers that the company discovered that the detector's Nest Wave motion-activated switch mechanism could be activated inadvertently — which could delay an alarm going off in the case of a fire.
"We identified this problem ourselves and are not aware of any customers who have experienced this, but the fact that it could even potentially happen is extremely important to me and I want to address it immediately," said Fadell in a letter posted on the company’s website in early April.
"We feel that the best and safest thing to do is to immediately disable the Nest Wave feature to resolve the issue and remove any safety concerns," he said. "While we fix Nest Wave, we have also halted sales of all new Nest Protect alarms to ensure no one buys an alarm that needs an immediate update."
According to the CPSC announcement, Nest Protect customers can turn off the Wave function with an automatic update that disables the feature and is delivered automatically to devices connected wirelessly to the internet and linked to a Nest account.
"Consumers who have not connected their Nest Protect devices to their wireless network and linked them to a Nest account should immediately do so. The devices will automatically receive the update that disables the Nest Wave feature," said the CPSC on its website.
A spokesperson for Nest Labs told ZDNet that the company expects to have the Nest Protect product back on the market "soon". In the meantime, the spokesperson said, the product should continue to work effectively, as long as the Wave function has been turned off.
"Current customers who have already followed these instructions can continue to use their Nest Protects once the Nest Wave feature has been disabled," the spokesperson said.
In January, Google announced it had entered into an agreement to acquire Nest Labs for US$3.2 billion, the second largest deal in the search giant's history.
The deal is strategically important for Google, as it will round out its Internet-of-Things strategy and strengthen Google’s footprint in the household.