The Bulletin

Nest to introduce a smart smoke detector

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Nest's thermostat could become a hub for other home automation components

The former lead developer of the iPod has now turned his attention to reinventing the thermostat as the latest element of an evolving scheme to automate the home.

Nest should soon be introducing a smoke detector called "Protect," WSJ alumna Jessica Lessin reported today. Protect will be controlled by smartphone applications or a computer like the company's Nest thermostat, and Lessin says that it could be paired with a subscription monitoring service that will notify homeowners when it detects smoke or fire.

The Protect may also interact with Nest and could have some novel features such as the capacity to be silenced by hand gestures. Lessin speculated that any connection with the Nest thermostat could save battery power.

These products are unlikely to have been introduced in isolation. Former Apple product engineers Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers founded Nest, and Fadell plotted out Nest's vision for an automated home in a December 2011 interview with SmartPlanet. He learned from the late Steve Jobs that a grand strategy should start at a simple place that educates consumers at each step of the way. Apple introduced the original iPod as music player, then it did pictures, then it became a digital media player, that turned into an iPhone, and then came the iPad Fadell said.

It wasn't an iPod, but Nest's quest to automate the home began nearly two years ago with the introduction of its US$250 "learning" thermostat. The Nest thermostat has undergone multiple hardware and software upgrades to broaden its capabilities. There's speculation that future products could involve remote locking and audio.

"The "connected home" gets quite a lot of buzz these days. Microsoft, Google, and Apple want to help us better connect video and audio throughout our homes. Nest, and others including Crestron, are focusing on the unsexy stuff like heating and cooling systems, shades and lights," Lessin wrote in her blog.

It also appears that Honeywell has been stirred up by Nest - it recently released voice controls for thermostats. You can expect more entrants and new innovations in home control as category awareness rises.

(Image credits: Nest,

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— By on September 24, 2013, 1:57 PM PST

David Worthington

Contributing Editor

David Worthington has written for BetaNews, eWeek, PC World, Technologizer and ZDNet. Formerly, he was a senior editor at SD Times. He holds a business degree from Temple University. He is based in New York. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure