Two years ago we saw the release of Nest’s game changing Smart Thermostat, an award wining appliance which automatically learns about your heating usage adjusting itself accordingly, and can be interacted with through an app for smartphones and tablets. The smart thermostat and the forthcoming Protect smoke alarm are examples of IoT appliances. The foreseen Internet of Things (IoT), a term we’re likely to hear a lot more in the coming years relates to appliances around the home or cars for example which can communicate with each other and the user through an interface providing the most efficient and personalised services.
Nest have begun redesigning household fittings we didn’t previously care about and whose designs have been neglected over the decades. Their second product is the Nest Protect smoke and CO detector and it meets the growing need for more personal and friendly fire alarm systems. Fire alarms are possibly the most disliked devices in our homes but actually deserve our affection for being on the lookout 24/7 to protect us and our families.
One of the leading causes for fire related deaths in households with a smoke alarm is that the batteries were removed out of annoyance. How many peaceful Sunday mornings have you had ruined by overzealous Smoke alarms which cry wolf at the first sign of burnt toast or bacon? Mine often goes off when toasting crumpets which haven’t even burnt! It’s easy to see why people try to temporarily remove the batteries but it can be a dangerous game to play.
“We made a smoke alarm you’ll love, because hating it is dangerous.”
Nest Protect takes a more personal approach when it comes to minor detections. It still becomes aware and alerts you at the first sign of smoke but does so with a friendly tone, a yellow glow and a human voice so as not to startle you. If the smoke becomes more intense an alarm sounds, the glowing ring turns red and a more urgent voice alerts you to the serious danger.
Protect also serves as a Carbon Monoxide (CO) detector, a piece of kit which is being adopted more and more to combat this silent killer. The ring glows red to warn you of the presence of carbon monoxide and alerts are made to your smartphone or tablet interfaces.
But the CO detector really shows the potential that the Internet of Things has. For example if you use both a Nest Smart Thermostat and a Nest Protect smoke alarm in your home, then the alarm will communicate with the thermostat and automatically turn off your gas boiler, a significant potential cause of carbon monoxide release.
We can only hope that an official framework will be created in the future encouraging compatibility between rival brands of IoT appliances to allow these kind of features to work. We don’t want to see the same kind of pathetic, anti-competitive practices Samsung has begun with its smartwatch by making it only possible to use with their own smartphones.
Another pleasant feature is that Nest Protect smoke alarms will emit a subtle glow during the night when they detect movement to light your way. It’s these little details which demonstrate the level of care Nest have taken when designing this smoke alarm.
The visual design is also quite a remarkable feat. Have you ever looked at a smoke alarm and uttered “it’s beautiful”? The rounded square shape, the glowing ring at its centre and the mesmerising sunflower pattern which emanates from it; the aesthetics make this smoke alarm something you’d want to have in your home on prominent display.
So what next for Nest? They seem to be moving relatively slowly with their product releases combatting one at a time with the utmost consideration to form and function. I’m curious to see which overlooked household fitting they’ll chose to give the Nest-treatment next. Light switches could be a contender, as could perhaps locks? Please leave any suggestions you might have in the comments.
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