Google’s latest purchase might still need some development as Nest Labs decided to halt sale of their flawed smoke alarms. Google had announced their intention to purchase Nest Labs for $3.2 million back in January 2014. The company however fears that a flaw in the product’s design might render the smoke alarm completely useless.
Nest Labs is the company that focuses on home automation by manufacturing and designing sensor driven thermostats and smoke alarms. The company was founded back in 2010 by former Apple engineers Matt Rogers and Tony Fadell. The very first product that the company introduced was the Nest Learning Thermostat in 2011.
The problem with their product is that the company added a feature called Nest Wave. The feature allows a user to wave their hand in front of the alarms to temporarily disable them. The problem with this feature was that users might unintentionally disable the alarm which would stop it from working in case of an actual fire. Fadell posted a letter to the company’s website stating that they were working to fix the problem as soon as possible.
The first step towards the fix was remotely deactivating the feature in all the purchased products. The smoke and carbon detection ability of the product will still however continue to function. Nest Labs has decided to halt the sales of their future smoke alarms until the glitch is completely fixed.
The glitch might sound severe but Nest is not fixing it out of complaints but to simply avoid any future incidents. Fadell mentioned that they were not aware of any customers so far who experienced the problem.
Another possible flaw with the feature is that it might read any surrounding movement as a wave and shut off automatically. Any nearby movement not intended to be a wave might be misread by the product’s algorithm as a signal to disable the alarm.
Nest would begin sending software updates to their customers once a fix for the problem has been perfected. Until then the feature will remain unavailable. Nest would also provide refunds for the detectors for customers who wish to return the product back to the company.
As to what prompted the company to take the steps Fadell commented that the company observed a set of circumstances under which the feature would automatically activate. That fact that this feature could be unintentionally activate was a source of concern according to Fadell and that he wished to address it immediately. The sets of circumstances however were not clearly specified.
The over the edge and sleek design is what brought the company in the spot light. Although it would seem that these very innovative features are the cause of the problem. Most of the products are WiFi enabled and so would be updated automatically. For customers without WiFi enabled devices the company recommends either disabling the feature manually or returning it for a refund.
Nest has become a household name because of their self learning and programmable products. Had the problem not been fixed, it could have seriously tarnished the company’s reputation. Nest Labs might have avoided serious customer backlash by identifying the problem beforehand and halting sales of their smoke alarms.
By Hammad Ali