On Friday, April 4th, Nest – the company behind the smart thermostat, which was acquired by Google for $3.2 billion – halted the sales of their latest product: Nest Protect: Smoke + Carbon Monoxide alarm. One of the features of the Nest Protect: Smoke + Carbon Monoxide alarm, Nest Wave, could be accidentally activated, thus causing a delay in the alarm. Nest Wave provides a way to silence false alarms:

False alarms that you can’t shut off are one of the most annoying aspects of smoke and CO alarms. Nest Wave helps you reduce the annoyance, making it easier to silence alarms. You don’t need a ladder or a broomstick; just stand near Nest Protect and wave at it. 1

Nest Wave

Upon learning of the defect, Nest CEO Tony Fadell jumped right out in front of the problem with a detailed letter to Nest customers. In this letter, Fadell noted the problem with Nest Wave:

During recent laboratory testing of the Nest Protect smoke alarm, we observed a unique combination of circumstances that caused us to question whether the Nest Wave (a feature that enables you to turn off your alarm with a wave of the hand) could be unintentionally activated. This could delay an alarm going off if there was a real fire. We identified this problem ourselves and are not aware of any customers who have experienced this, but the fact that it could even potentially happen is extremely important to me and I want to address it immediately.2

The company has taken the step of disabling the Nest Wave feature until a solution is uncovered. Further, Fadell offered a complete refund should anyone wish to return the device:

Please know that the entire Nest team and I are focused on fixing this problem and continuing to improve our current products in every way possible. If you don’t want to keep your Nest Protect smoke alarm, we will give you a complete refund.3

Although many are arguing that this is a major black eye for Nest, it seems almost the exact opposite. The company’s rigorous testing uncovered a major defect, that up to now had not effected anyone, and they jumped in front of it. The speed with which Nest was able to identify and provide a temporary fix is deserving of praise.