Palo Alto company Nest Labs says it will stop selling its popular Protect smoke alarm over fears that the device could accidentally be powered down at a crucial moment.
"During recent laboratory testing of the Nest Protect smoke alarm, we observed a unique combination of circumstances that caused us to question whether the Nest Wave (a feature that enables you to turn off your alarm with a wave of the hand) could be unintentionally activated," Tony Fadell, the CEO of Nest Labs, wrote in a message on the Nest site. "This could delay an alarm going off if there was a real fire."
Mr. Fadell stressed that no customers had reported problems with their Protect unit. Instead, he said, Nest employees had identified the problem on their own.
When it was first released last year, Nest heralded the Protect as a "breakthrough innovation" that would cut down on energy use and make it easier to power down in the case of a false alarm. "Nest Protect gives you a friendly Heads-Up warning that you can silence with a wave of your hand – no more swinging towels or brooms to try to quiet a false alarm," an introductory press release read.
Despite its relatively high price ($129 per alarm), the Nest earned a warm reception among critics – a "lovely object," Engadget said – and sales, at least in the early months, seemed to be strong. Speaking to Forbes in December, Fadell said "tens of thousands" of Protect units were already online.
So what should you do if you've got a Nest Protect in your home? Well, if the device is connected via Wi-Fi to a Nest account, Fadell says it will be powered down automatically. If it's not hooked up to a Wi-Fi connection, Nest suggests following these directions so the device can be remotely disabled.