Tony Fadell created the Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide alarm with the aim of proving that a smoke detector can be sleek

Nest Labs tries to smarten up the household smoke detector

Smoke detectors frequently produce more headaches than useful warnings. The devices have an irritating habit of shrieking when there’s no cause for alarm, and always seem to wait until the middle of the night to chirp when their batteries run low.

Tony Fadell, a gadget guru who helped design the iPod and original iPhone while working at Apple, is counting on his latest innovation to prove that a smoke detector can be sleek, smart and appreciated.

The device, called Nest Protect, is the second product hatched from Nest Labs Inc., a startup founded by Fadell in 2010 in an attempt to infuse homes with more of the high-tech wizardry that people take for granted in smartphones. The Palo Alto company has 270 employees and has raised tens of millions of dollars from investors that include Google’s venture-capital arm and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a venture capital firm with a long record of backing innovative ideas.

Besides sensing smoke, Nest Protect is designed to detect unsafe levels of carbon monoxide. That could broaden the square-shaped device’s appeal, especially in the growing number of states that require homeowners to install carbon monoxide detectors.

Nest Protect’s price will probably turn off many consumers. It will go on sale next month for $129 in more than 5,000 stores in the U.S., Canada and United Kingdom. Other devices that detect both smoke and carbon monoxide typically sell for $50 to $80 apiece.

Fadell, who ended an eight-year stint at Apple in 2009, is aiming for an audience that appreciates sleekly designed products that provide peace of mind and simplicity.

“We want to take the unloved products in your own home and bring them to life in a way that makes them beautiful,” Fadell said while proudly showing off the Nest Protect. “There has been very little innovation with smoke detectors in the past 35 years and now we think we have found a way to make them less annoying.”

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

‘Mad Mob’ aims to influence SF City Hall on mental health policies

They are fed up with City Hall telling those who need the services what’s best for them

‘Trump chicken returns to SF Bay with new companion

The Trump Chicken will return to San Francisco Bay on Saturday, but… Continue reading

Police efforts to stem 49ers revelry in Mission District spark backlash

SFPD preparing for potential bonfires, vandalism on Super Bowl Sunday

Calendar of Events: San Francisco celebrates the Year of the Rat

JAN. 25 Choy Sun Doe Day: The San Francisco Chinese Chamber of… Continue reading

BART study: Ending paper tickets would ‘disproportionately’ impact low-income riders, people of color

When BART eventually eliminates its magnetic-stripe paper tickets from use, it will… Continue reading

Most Read