Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 10.46.33 AMHome appliance company Nest is at it again with another wi-fi connected gizmo that you never thought you needed, but seems awesome now that you think of it.

Nest is now bringing the same techniques that allowed it to change the way people think about thermostats and applying them to the smoke alarm. Yes, this company is trying to take the slightly radioactive household appliance that everybody needs and turn it into something that’s nice to use.

The resulting product is the Nest Protect, a combination smoke and carbon monoxide alarm that talks to you and hooks up to your smartphone or tablet. One of the Nest Protect’s key features is that it talks to you about a possible hazard before starting up an alarm klaxon. That way, you don’t have to worry about having to disable an alarm just because you happened to burn a batch of rice on the stove, or something.

In the event that the alarm does start going off, you can silence it just by waving your hand under the Nest Protect, or shut it up through Nest’s smartphone app.

A single Nest Protect is roughly half the price of the company’s thermostat at $129, and for complete coverage, you need to have them in multiple rooms of your house, which means blanketing your home with talking smoke detectors is going to cost a pretty penny. While it’s clear that these devices are better than the standard beige, chirping UFOs which are so ubiquitous in homes around the country, it remains to be seen whether they’re worth that much.

There’s one clear disadvantage to the Nest protect: if you’re the sort of person who walks around with a Windows Phone and a Microsoft Surface, you won’t be able to set the Nest Protect up in your house. According to Nest’s official instructions, it can only be set up through the company’s Android and iPhone apps.

Nest, founded by Apple iPod veterans Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers, also has some Seattle roots, thanks to its VP of Technology Yoky Matsuoka, a former University of Washington computer science professor.

What household staple do you think Nest is after next? My guess is window shades.

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  • Eric Peters

    I would have rather had a Nest sprinkler system

    • Kevin Lisota

      That is a bigger opportunity, no doubt. Programming sprinkler systems is a royal pain in the ass. That said, I wonder if the control systems are too varied or non-standard to be able to easily achieve this?

  • Michael

    I don’t get why this is tied to specific platforms (Android, iOS). I see this more and more with device manufacturers. Is there some added security in having an app talk to the device? Or is it too hard to talk over https from any wifi device? My only thought is it’s easier to gather user data and metrics, since people use ad blockers and tracking protection lists in browsers. The app culture seems to drive adoption of the platform (I need an android phone so I can mange my smoke detectors and Bluetooth door lock).

    • guest

      Nest support access via a browser. When WP or other mobile platforms have meaningful installed bases, they’ll get native versions, until then, you get html.

  • Timothy Ellis

    Wait, so it ties to the Nest Thermostat, but only for auto-away and furnace shut-off? No remote temperature sensor feature? Seems like a giant missed opportunity.

    Remote temperature sensing is my #1 most-wanted feature for my Nest Thermostat. I’d probably buy a few of these Nest Protects if they had remote temperature sensing, but as-is, I’ll probably wait for version 2.

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