Two months after Nest took its smart smoke detector Protect off the shelves based on an internally identified safety issue, Protect is once again for sale. Nest announced it would resume sales in a late-night blog post today — and the news comes with a welcome price chop.
If you missed the commotion over Protect back in March, here's a primer. Nest CEO Tony Fadell announced that internal testing at Nest had revealed that one of Protect's most admired features, which lets users "hush" an alarm with a wave of their hand, could also accidentally turn of an alarm during a real fire. At the time, no customer had experienced this scenario, but the company decided to take Protect off the shelves anyway. It also pushed out a software update to existing Protects, disabling the "hush to wave" feature to eliminate the potential hazard and issued an official recall of 400,000 devices.
At that point, we knew Nest was working on a permanent fix. The device you can buy today is exactly the same as the old Protect — except it arrives with software where wave-to-hush is already disabled. According to the company, testing on the feature will continue and, down the line, might be reenabled if it proves safe after all.
Another detail of today's announcement was Nest's first internal report on data culled from its army of Protects, which revealed that CO events are far more common than you might think (more on that later). Using five months of data from users' Protects, Nest revealed that 0.65 per cent of homes experienced a carbon monoxide event. It might not seem like much, but this is an important example of how Protect can use the data it's constantly recording. Normally, CO events are self-reported (read: rarely reported).
Of course, the one other major update is the price tag: Starting today, Protect will cost just $US99, down from its $US130 launch price. After a rocky first couple months, the price chop is definitely a strategic move on Nest's part. After all, you can buy a smoke and CO alarm for less than $US50, so asking consumers to take a leap of faith on a product more than twice the cost of established devices is a major risk.
Bringing Protect into a more affordable range is a smart move — we'll have to wait and see if consumers think it's affordable enough. [Nest]