Disclaimer - By publishing this information on this Web site, the Boston, Massachusetts law firm of Altman & Altman LLP is not claiming to represent any clients or cases mentioned here. The content provided is designed to inform readers and is not intended as legal advice.

Google Acquisition Nest Labs Halts Sales of Its Smoke Detector

Nest Labs, the home electronics company Google recently acquired for $3.2 billion has stopped selling its smoke and carbon monoxide detectors amid grave concerns regarding its reliability in the event of an emergency. According to the New York Times, the smoke detector, known as “Nest Protect” can be inadvertently disabled when a person waves his or hands in front of the alarm. Perhaps inspired by the classic waving of a dish towel around the detector after cooking something especially smoky, the feature, called “Nest Wave,” was clearly not well-thought-out by the designers. Officials are worried that someone could potentially deactivate the alarm, rendering it useless in the event of a fire or carbon monoxide event.

It is easily to imagine how a child could unknowingly deactivate the alarm if it got close enough, putting the entire family at risk. A smoke detector and carbon monoxide alarm is one of the only electronics in the home that goes largely unnoticed until there is an actual emergency. They are the silent lifelines that only announce their presence when a threat is detected. If the alarm was disabled, it is possible no one in the home would even notice until it was much too late.

Nest Chief Executive Tony Fadell posted an open letter to customers on the company’s website explaining that Nest is making every effort to solve the problem. Fadell stated that the company has stopped selling the product until the feature in question has been remedied. He also mentioned that Nest would immediately begin deactivating the “Nest Wave” feature on devices already installed in homes. Fortunately, this is a process that can be done remotely to prevent any incidents with current customers.

Mr. Fadell apologized for the inconvenience and safety concerns to customers, and assured weary homeowners that the remote disabling of the feature would not interfere with the alarm’s ability to detector smoke and carbon monoxide. The New York Times notes that these issues are a rare misstep for the relatively new company that has been praised for its well-made and aesthetically pleasing products. In a market largely ignored by other home electronics companies, Nest’s simple, user-friendly home thermostat and smoke detectors have stood out, prompting Google to acquire the company.

According to Tony Fadell, Nest regularly conducts laboratory tests of its products, which is where the potentially problem with the wave feature was first identified. Some movement could be misinterpreted by the alarm’s software program and unintentionally disable it. Still, he assured, the gesture only temporarily disables the device. “If smoky conditions persist, the alarm is designed to sound again. It cannot be silenced in dense and dangerous smoke conditions (New York Times).” Frank E. Gillett, an analyst at Forrester Research, explains that the issues Nest is facing are becoming more common as the tech industry begins to conquer the home security market.
The National Fire Protection Agency reports that seven people die every day in home fires in the United States. Between the years 2007 and 2011, “these fires caused an estimated average of 2,570 civilian deaths, 13,210 civilian injuries, and $7.2 billion in direct property damage per year.” At the Greater Boston Law Firm of Altman & Altman, LLP, our dedicated team of Massachusetts Personal Injury Attorneys understand the emotional, physical, and financial burdens faced by victims of personal injuries and their families following a house fire or carbon monoxide poisoning. Our attorneys combine the professional experience of having successfully handled thousands of Personal Injury cases involving faulty equipment that families trust to protect their lives, with the individual attention to respond to the unique nature of your case.

At the law offices of Altman & Altman, we are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week – including nights and weekends to answer any questions regarding your case. Call us today to schedule a free initial consultation and case evaluation.

Read the full article from The New York Times