Home appliance company Nest has stopped selling its smart smoke alarms after it discovered a flaw which could prevent the timely detection of fire.
The Nest Protect smoke alarm was launched in the US, Canada and the UK last October allowing users to remotely activate/deactivate their smoke alarm using their smartphone or tablet, as well as turning it off simply by waving at the unit.
It is this feature which the company has now identified as a problem with its alarm.
In a letter sent to all customers, Nest CEO Tony Fadell said:
"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. This could delay an alarm going off if there was a real fire."
Nest is wholly owned by Google with the search giant paying $3.2 billion (£1.93bn) for the smart home appliance company in January.
"Address it immediately"
Fadell said Nest's own internal testing identified this problem and the company is not aware of any customers who have experienced it, "but the fact that it could even potentially happen is extremely important to me and I want to address it immediately."
The first step taken to address the problem has been to stop selling the device from its website, as well as disabling the Nest Wave feature on devices it has already sold.
Fadell has outlined the steps users need to take if they already own a Nest Protect:
- If you have a Nest Protect connected to a Nest Account via Wi-Fi then within 24 hours the feature will be automatically disabled. You don't need to do anything and the smoke alarm will continue to monitor for increased levels of smoke and CO in the home.
- If you have a Nest Protect that is not connected to a Nest Account, or have since taken it offline you should immediately connect your alarm to your account so Nest can remotely disable the Wave feature. Here are detailed instructions on how to connect your Nest Protect to the Nest Account.
- If you have a Nest Protect that is not connected to a Nest account and do not have access to Wi-Fi, Nest suggests you should discontinue use of your alarm and it will give you a complete refund.
Working on a fix
Fadell said that once the company has worked out how to fix the issue with Nest Wave it will push an update to the Protect, though he stressed this would only happen "after extensive testing and once we have received approval from safety agencies in the US, Canada and UK." This process is expected to take two to three months.
Fadell apologised to Nest customers, saying: "We're enormously sorry for the inconvenience caused by this issue. The team and I are dedicated to ensuring that we can stand behind each Nest product that comes into your home, and your 100% satisfaction and safety are what motivates us."
Fadell is a former Apple designer who is credited with helping design the original iPod. His smart appliances company launched in the US in 2011, coming to the UK last year with the launch of Nest Protect.
Earlier this week the company announced that its other product, a "learning thermostat" would go on sale in the UK in partnership with energy company Npower.