Nest Labs releases 'smart' Protect smoke alarm

Home automation company Nest Labs today released their latest product: a "smart" smoke alarm.

Nest Protect is designed to solve the traditional problems associated with annoying smoke alarms, the technology of which has remained largely unchanged since the 1970s.

"We all know why smoke alarms are torn off the ceiling or missing batteries", said Nest in their press release. "Because every time you make stir-fry, the smoke alarm cries wolf. Or just as you're falling asleep, you hear a low-battery chirp. They've become annoying. And that's a safety issue."

A survey by the National Fire Protection Association revealed that "More than one-third (38%) of home fire deaths resulted from fires in which no smoke alarms were present at all", and that "one quarter (24%)... in properties in which smoke alarms were present but failed to operate."

The report went on to state that "when smoke alarms should have operated but did not do so, it was usually because batteries are missing, disconnected or dead," suggesting that users often intentionally remove batteries.

Nest's new smoke detector is Wi-Fi enabled. As well as warning users with a spoken audio alert, it sends message to iOS or Android devices such as mobiles or tablets when smoke or carbon monoxide are detected in the atmosphere, or even when the device's batteries are running low.

The Nest Protect is also designed to avert annoying false-positives. In cases where the device isn't certain there's a fire, it alerts the user with a warning message, telling them where the smoke has been detected. It then allows the user to dismiss the warning by waving their hand at the device.

The Protect can also sync up with other smart household appliances designed by Nest, such as the Nest Thermostat, taking another step in the direction of smart houses. It even acts as a nightlight, increasing its coloured glow when someone walks underneath it in the dark.

The device comes in at £110, and is available in white or black models.