Last week, a forward-thinking company announced their latest innovation: a smart smoke alarm that talks, and shuts up—without requiring you to run around the house in a frenzy. The Nest Protect is a new kind of smoke and carbon monoxide detector that leverages the power of microprocessors for the goal of being less annoying. Simply put, if you burn a corn dog, the Nest Protect will immediately alert you, however, its calm (yet loud) electronic voice will be much less jarring.
It’s greatest strength is that you silence it with a simple wave of a hand, instead of needing to scamper around, grabbing a chair, and damaging your hearing as you rip it from the ceiling. It’s the world’s first smoke alarm that’s designed to keep you from willfully removing its power source and permanently hiding it in a drawer.
It’s a very compelling new product, and it fits into a genre of things that comprise the “connected home of the future.” Other products in this category include the Nest Learning Thermostat, and electric car charging installations.
Unfortunately, for renters (and the vast majority of city dwellers), installing a smart thermostat and a car charger isn’t an option. It’s just plum impossible. The Nest Protect, on the other hand, is something they can all use. And it’s something they all should use.
To be fair, it is possible for a renter to have a network of wireless Sonos speakers, web-connected surveillance equipment, and Wi-Fi doodads in their home, but ultimately, these are luxury items. Nest products and electric car chargers are bonafide home utilities. They act as the backbone of your house and life. In a small, yet significant way, the Nest Protect changes the script.
No article about this talking ceiling gizmo is complete without discussing its most controversial aspect: price. The average smoke detector costs $30. A single Nest Protect sets you back $130. For many people, this is a total deal breaker.
But for people like me, who’ve experienced what it’s like to be on the top floor of a six-story apartment building with the unit next door engulfed in flames, $130 for a well-designed smoke detector is the bargain of a lifetime.