Sleek smoke detector
Smoke detectors frequently produce more headaches than useful warnings. The devices have an irritating habit of shrieking when there’s no cause for alarm, and always seem to wait until the middle of the night to chirp when their batteries run low.
Tony Fadell, a gadget guru who helped design the iPod and original iPhone while working at Apple, is counting on his latest innovation to prove that a smoke detector can be sleek, smart and appreciated.
The device, called “Nest Protect,” is the second product hatched from Nest Labs Inc., a startup founded by Fadell in 2010 in an attempt to infuse homes with more of the high-tech wizardry that people take for granted in smartphones.
Besides sensing smoke, Nest Protect is designed to detect unsafe levels of carbon monoxide.
Nest Protect’s price will probably turn off many consumers. It will go on sale next month for $129 in more than 5,000 stores in the United States, Canada and United Kingdom. Other less-sophisticated devices that detect both smoke and carbon monoxide typically sell for $50 to $80 apiece.
Fadell, who ended an eight-year stint at Apple Inc. in 2009, is aiming for an audience that appreciates sleekly designed products that provide peace of mind and simplicity.
The Nest Protect is equipped with a variety of sensors for detecting heat, smoke, carbon monoxide, light and motion. It also is programmed to deliver early warnings in spoken words instead of a shrill alarm to give a home’s occupants a chance to check on whether there’s just too much smoke coming from the oven, steam from the shower or a real fire hazard.
If there is nothing to worry about, all it takes is a wave of the arm to tell Nest Protect to be quiet. Multiple devices in the same home can communicate with each other through wireless connections. They can be programmed to send warnings about possible hazards and low batteries to smartphones and tablet computers. The Nest Protect can even communicate with the company’s thermostat product to inform it about unsafe levels of carbon monoxide so the furnace can be automatically turned off.
The Nest Protect also lights up in white when it senses someone in the house walking by it in the dark.
For those who don’t want the hassle of batteries, one of the Nest Protect models can be plugged into a power outlet. Only a white model will be sold in stores, although a black version will be sold through Nest Labs’ website.
MICHAEL LIEDTKE, Associated Press
High-tech door lock
Kwikset’s new Kevo deadbolt lock can be unlocked with a smartphone and a simple touch.
The Bluetooth-enabled door lock communicates with the smartphone via an app that essentially turns the phone into an electronic key. When the phone comes within range of the lock, the lock recognizes it and can be unlocked with a touch. You don’t even have to take the phone out of your pocket or purse.
You can send “eKeys” to others with compatible phones to give them access to your home, and you can disable or delete those eKeys if necessary.
The app is currently available only for iPhone 4S and 5, but apps for Android and Blackberry phones are being developed. A fob can be used by people who don’t have a compatible device.
The Kevo deadbolt comes in Venetian bronze, satin nickel and polished brass finishes. It costs $219 and can be ordered at Amazon.com, HomeDepot.com, Build.com or Newegg.com.