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

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.
Written by Jason D. O'Grady, Contributor
'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. 

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