Nest Smoke Alarms Can Tell Smoke From Steam Now, But Wave Feature Still Doesn’t Work

nestprotectbackWhen it comes to smoke detectors, the only thing worse than a screeching alarm when there’s no fire in your home is when the alarm doesn’t go off when there is a real fire. One of these problems is annoying, and the other can be life-threatening. In lab tests and real-life situations, users of the Nest Protect smoke alarm have reported both issues, and Google-owned Nest has really only been able to fix one of them.

Nest smoke detectors were recalled and taken off store shelves back in May because of an issue with the system that lets users shut off false alarms by waving at the unit. While this is easier than hauling out a chair or stepstool or frantically waving a newspaper at the ceiling, my time-honored methods to shut down false alarms, the company’s tests found that it could delay the alarm in case of an actual fire. Oops.

The company’s solution at the time was to push out a software update that…disabled the wave-to-shut-up-the-alarm feature. The wave feature simply hasn’t returned, which keeps customers safer, but is less fun.

What about the false steam alarms? Nest has solved that problem, which was based on complaints from customers. False alarms due to humidifiers or, perhaps, boiling pots of pasta have been reduced by half thanks to new smoke-detection algorithms.

Google’s Nest Solves Steam Problem but Is Still Vexed by Wave [Wall Street Journal]