Google's Nest Labs disables risky feature on its smoke alarms

Google's Nest Labs disables risky feature on its smoke alarms

The high-tech home monitoring device company Nest Labs is disabling a feature on its smoke alarms due to the risk that owners could unintentionally turn off the device with the wave of a hand.

Nest was acquired this year by Google Inc. for $3.2 billion.

Nest developed technology which it calls the Nest Wave that allows owners to turn off the Nest Protect: Smoke + Carbon Monoxide alarm at a distance, among other things.

Founder and CEO Tony Fadell said on the company's website, however, that a "unique combination of circumstances" could delay an alarm going off in the event of a real fire.

The Nest Protect costs about $130. In comparison, other smoke and carbon monoxide detectors typically range between $50 and $80.

Fadell said that concerns about the product were raised during lab testing, and that there are no known instances in which customers have deactivated their alarm unintentionally.

Consumers with a Nest Protect connected to a Nest account with Wi-Fi will automatically have Nest Wave disabled within 24 hours. No action needs to be taken and their smoke alarm will continue to work. Those with a Nest Protect not connected to a company account should immediately connect to their Nest account so the company can remotely disable Nest Wave.

For individuals with a Nest Protect not connected to an account and that don't have access to Wi-Fi, Nest recommends that they immediately stop using the alarm and contact the company for a complete refund.

Nest is halting sales of all new Nest Protect alarms to ensure none without updated software are sold.

The Palo Alto, California, company said that once the Nest Wave works as it's supposed to, it will update software and turn the feature back on. Nest believes that it will be at least two to three months before that happens.

Fadell - a gadget guru who helped design the iPod and original iPhone while working at Apple - apologized to customers for the inconvenience and said that those that don't want to keep their alarms will be given a full refund. For more details on the refund, consumers can visit nest.com/contact/refund.

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