Nest: Remember the Basics

I love the Nest products, their design, the functionality, their connectivity and the way they’ve taken two products we see every day and made them smarter on their own and easier to use by consumers.

Nest Protect, image credit:

Nest Protect, credit:

When they released the Nest Protect fire and carbon monoxide detector last year, I admired the way they had looked at the common usability irritants of existing detectors, such as the chirping and the nuisance alarms, and they solved them in a way which was safer for everyone. The price tag of $129 seemed a bit high but hey, they are functional and beautiful.

That said, it was disappointing to see Consumer Reports test the Nest Protect and find it bad at, of all things, fire detection. It turns out (and I learned this today from an older Consumer Reports article) there are two types of  smoke sensors: photoelectric and ionization. Photoelectric sensors are used to detect for smoldering fires, such as those from a burning couch or mattress, while ionization sensors are used to detect fast-flaming fires, such as those caused by burning paper. The Nest uses only one, the photoelectric sensor.This makes the way cheaper fire detector, the Kidde Model Pi9010, sold for $17.89 on Amazon, beat the Nest at its basic, most important function: smoke detection. And that’s a shame.

As Consumer Reports themselves said: “It would have been a real game-changer if the Nest Protect contained all three sensors (one for CO, and the two for fire), something we’ve been calling on manufacturers to develop.”

Judging from the Kidde’s price tag, adding another sensor would not have added much to the cost of the Nest Protect and it would have provided the best protection.

My product wisdom from all of this: always consider usability, have great features and functionality, always strive for great design, but don’t forget the basics. Define what it is your product has to do and make sure it does it.


One thought on “Nest: Remember the Basics

  1. Pingback: The new, smart doorbell you never knew you needed | What it all boils down to

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