For a device created to save lives, the household smoke detector sure takes a lot of heat for being annoying: the false alarms when the cookies get burned, the incessant beeping when the battery needs changing and all those times standing on wobbly chairs while trying to find minuscule buttons.
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Not only does the new Nest Protect smoke detector put an end to all those inconveniences, it manages to bring hip, intelligent design to an otherwise stodgy device. Invented by Tony Fadell, one of the creators behind the iPod, Nest Protect combines the elements of a traditional smoke alarm with a variety of sensors that detect heat, light, motion and carbon monoxide.
The device can identify different kinds of smoke - say from a stove top - and gives a proper "nuisance alarm" warning. During these situations, users can wave their hands at Nest, which uses an ultrasonic sensor to read the motions and deactivate the alarm. The wireless device can even distinguish between rooms and includes voice notifications, such as, "There is carbon monoxide in the master bedroom."