April 4, 2014
Google Announces Temporary Hold On Sales Of Nest Protect Devices
Enid Burns for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Google-owned Nest announced this week it would put sales of its Nest Protect on hold, but will push an update out to existing Nest Protect units connected to Wi-Fi. The recall is due to an anomaly the company found during testing, and not a result of any incident that occurred within a household using Nest Protect.
Nest Labs CEO Tony Fadell issued a letter on the Nest website saying the issue is with the Nest Wave function, which allows users to wave their arm at the unit in order to disable the alarm. However, Nest Labs is concerned that an inadvertent hand wave might be picked up by the Nest Detect unit as a gesture to turn off the alarm prematurely.
"At Nest, we conduct regular, rigorous tests to ensure that our products are the highest quality. During recent laboratory testing of the Nest Protect smoke alarm, we observed a unique combination of circumstances that caused us to question whether the Nest Wave (a feature that enables you to turn off your alarm with a wave of the hand) could be unintentionally activated. This could delay an alarm going off if there was a real 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," Fadell wrote in the company letter.
To address the situation, Nest Labs has ceased the sale of its Nest Protect unit. It is also instructing homeowners who have installed the unit to disable the Nest Wave feature until a fix has been made available.
The Nest Protect is a Wi-Fi-enabled smoke detector. It is made by the same company that makes the Nest thermostat that learns to program itself, and can be controlled by a smartphone or tablet. Nest Labs was acquired by Google in January for $3.2 billion.
For Nest Protect smoke detectors that are connected to Wi-Fi with a Nest account, the unit will automatically deactivate the Nest Wave feature for the time being. Nest Labs said it will eventually push out an update that will restore and reactivate the Nest Wave feature.
Nest Protect units that are installed but not connected to the Internet with a Nest account will need to have the Nest Wave feature shut down manually. Fadell offers instructions to implement the fix within the company letter.
The learning function of the Nest Wave is what needs to be fixed, according to Slash Gear.
"Nest Wave uses a motion sensor to watch out for the waving motion people traditional make toward smoke alarms when they inadvertently go off during cooking or when candles have been lit. Rather than require a button be pressed, Nest Protect could spot the gesture and silence itself automatically," SlashGear's Chris Davies wrote.
The fix that will re-enable the Nest Wave feature might take at least two-to-three months. The company needs to determine a fix, program for it, and then get approval from authorities, Slash Gear reports.
"Given Nest needs to get approval not only from US safety agencies but those in the UK and Canada. Nest began sales of the Nest Thermostat in the UK earlier this week, as part of its new international drive," Davies wrote.