Holy smokes! Nest is recalling 440,000 smoke alarms over safety fears

22 May 2014

Just months after it was acquired by Google for US$3.2bn, appliances maker Nest is recalling 440,000 smoke alarms over safety fears after a flaw that prevents the alarm from sounding immediately was discovered.

Nest’s Protect Smoke + CO alarms allow users to temporarily silence them by waving their arms near the unit.

However, it has dawned on the device’s creators that the device could misinterpret people waving their arms and turn off if there was in fact a real fire.

All sales of new units have been halted and users have the option of connecting the device to the internet to fix the problem rather than having it recalled, since Nest is offering an electronic update to disable the wave feature.

The company said it has not received any reports of incidents, injuries or property damage because of the flaw.

Wireless remedy

The device must be connected to the internet to receive the automatic update.

“Consumers whose Nest Protect devices are connected to their wireless network and linked to a Nest account should immediately confirm the receipt of an automatic repair that disabled the Nest Wave feature by going to Nest Sense on their Nest account mobile or web application and ensuring that the button for Nest Wave is set to ‘off’ and grayed out,” Nest said.

“No further action is required and consumers can continue to use their devices.”

Last month, Siliconrepublic.com noted that Nest said it found a problem with the device’s algorithm: “movements near the product that are not intended as a wave can be misinterpreted.”

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years