Nest’s smart smoke detector is about to become a whole lot smarter

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Nest is about to turn all the data its thousands of Nest Protect owners have been delivering into some tangible new features. Since launching the $99 smart home smoke and carbon monoxide detector late last year, a follow-up to its popular Learning Thermostat, Nest, which is owned by Google, has been collecting anonymized data from hundreds of thousands of installed units in the US, Canada and the UK Now the company has a handful of updates, all bundled into a Nest Protect 2.0 software update that was built in direct response to that data-driven learning.

The new world of internet-connected hardware is always watching, and it’s always changing, too. Google-owned Nest, best known as the maker of the shiny learning thermostat, is giving a fresh update to its $100 connected smoke and C0 detector, the Nest Protect. The 2.0 update will introduce a few new features, but mostly notably it’s activating a dormant humidity sensor to give the device the ability to distinguish between smoke and steam. Steam is a common problem for smoke detectors, because smoke particles and steam particles looks similar to smoke detector sensors, which measure the level of obfuscation in the air. Knowing the humidity will solve this problem. “We wanted to do this from start,” says Maxime Veron, head of product marketing at Nest, in a phone call. “That’s why we put the humidity sensor in from the start. But it took us two things to make this happen: Gathering enough data and working with certification agencies to make sure this is not going to compromise safety.” Some of the other updates: showing you carbon monoxide levels, allowing owners to adjust the brightness of the light on the device, and giving users a history of alerts in their Nest smartphone app. These updates are based off of data Nest has been collecting about how Nest Protect owners have been using the device over the past year.

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