After recall, Nest relaunches Protect smoke detector for $99

The Google-owned device maker is bringing back its smart smoke detector -- without the problematic feature that caused the company to pull it from retailers in the first place.

Nest Protect
The smart smoke detector is coming back to the market at a lower price. Lindsey Turrentine/CNET

Two and a half months after Nest Labs pulled its "smart" Protect smoke detector off store shelves, the device maker on Monday returned the product to the market with a lower price tag: $99 or £89, down from $129 or £110.

The company withdrew the Protect -- which connects to Wi-Fi and also serves as a carbon monoxide detector -- from retail in April, after it found a problem with a feature that lets users silence the alarm with a wave of the hand. The feature, appropriately called Nest Wave, could unintentionally delay the alarm from going off during an actual fire, CEO Tony Fadell wrote at the time.

The company also issued a software update to disable the feature, and offered refunds to customers who could not connect. Still, in May, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission announced an official recall of more than 440,000 units.

The relaunched Protect will come without the problematic Wave feature, though a company spokesperson said Nest hopes to bring it back. "We're still investigating the best solution for the future," said Nest's Zoz Cuccias, though she said there is no timeline for the decision.

The relaunch comes as big tech companies have shown more interest in the connected home. Wi-Fi enabled devices and appliances in customers' houses can be a valuable data play for companies -- and potentially advertisers -- looking to find out more about consumers. Google in January announced it was buying Nest for $3.2 billion. (Nest, however, quickly said that its privacy policy would not change after the Google acquisition.)

Earlier this month, Apple announced its own foray into the smart home with a platform called HomeKit, which allows device makers to integrate home automation features like door-locking and light-dimming into its forthcoming iOS 8 mobile operating system. Partners include Honeywell and August, the smart lock maker.

The Protect will be available online only for now, at the Nest, Amazon, Best Buy, and Home Depot websites. What's missing -- of note because of Nest's tie-up with Google -- is availability on Apple's online store. (The company still sells Nest's other product, a smart thermostat, on the marketplace.) However, Cuccias said that the Protect will eventually come back to Apple's online and physical stores, though it will happen later, during the full retail rollout of the product.

Nest on Monday also published a report on carbon monoxide, based on data collected anonymously from Protect users between last month and November 2013, just after the product launched. "Because we're connected to Wi-Fi, we have a ton of info that hasn't been out there before," Cuccias said.

According to the study, more than 1 million households in the US, UK, and Canada are exposed to "high levels" of carbon monoxide each year. Also, .15 percent of Protect users had their carbon monoxide alarms go off every month since November.

 

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