If you’re wandering the aisles of Home Depot starting next month, you may notice a new kind of smoke alarm… a “smart” one. We already have smartphones and smart tablets. We have smart meters and even smartwatches. Our cars are getting smarter, and our entertainment systems seem to be even smarter than we are. So what’s next? For years, analysts have been telling us that our homes will soon get smarter, allowing us to control home systems such as lighting, heating and cooling, entertainment and sound, home security and others from our smartphones.
Up until now, however, nobody ever really thought about our smoke detectors. If there was an ever a home technology that needed some smarts, that’s it. Smoke detectors can go off when we burn toast, when we blow out birthday candles and even if we take an overly steamy shower. Smart thermostat maker Nest Labs of Palo Alto, Calif., says it’s about to change all that. The company has announced the launch of a new smart smoke detector that works in conjunction with your home’s Wi-Fi as well as your tablets and smartphones to simply create a better smoke detector.
It’s not only a unique product, but also a unique step for Home Depot, which has been increasingly stocking its shelves with smart home products designed to bring us a step closer to “the connected home.”
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The Nest detectors are set up with the help of your tablet or smartphone, so they know which room they’re in, and can actually notify you of which room has smoke in it. They provide you with an alert before they go off. They can be silenced with a wave of the hand, so next time the toast burns, the entire home doesn’t wake up in alarm. (The product’s tag line is “Safety Shouldn’t Be Annoying.”) The smart alarms know when their battery levels are low, so they can provide you with alerts to your phone. No more dismantling the smoke alarm because its battery beeps are annoying, or because you’re making blackened tuna for supper that night.
"Imagine everybody has that same story of dismantling these devices that were designed to keep us safe," Matt Rogers, co-founder and vice president of engineering at Nest Labs Inc., told Silicon Valley Business Journal. "We look for all the unloved products in the home, all the white plastic boxes in the house and reinvent them."
The Next detector doesn’t only check for smoke: it also looks for carbon monoxide (CO), heat, light and motion. Nest Protect will also communicate with Nest's thermostat if customers have both in their homes. Its motion detector data is shared with the thermostat to help it adjust the temperature based on how many people are detected in the home, says Silicon Valley Business Journal.
The product is currently available for pre-order (available in November) at Home Depot as well as Amazon, Apple stores and Best Buy. It carries a suggested price tag of $129.
Edited by Alisen Downey