Nest Protect smoke detector talks to your phone and out loud in warning

Jesse Michaels

Nest, the startup founded by Apple iPod creator Tony Fadell, today unveiled its latest re-imagining of a home essential: the smoke detector.

Nest first came to prominence in 2011 with their iPod-inspired Nest Thermostat that allowed users to remotely control their home heating and cooling with an app.

The new device, called "Nest Protect," is the second product hatched from Nest Labs Inc., 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 USD in more than 5,000 stores in the U.S., 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.

[ Related: Nest Labs gets into talking smoke detectors ]

"We want to take the unloved products in your own home and bring them to life in a way that makes them beautiful," Fadell said while proudly showing off the Nest Protect. "There has been very little innovation with smoke detectors in the past 35 years and now we think we have found a way to make them less annoying."

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.

The Nest Protect also lights up in white when it senses someone in the house walking by it in the dark. The device emits green glow when the lights are first turned out in the room as a signal that it's working fine.

For those who don't want the hassle of batteries, one of the 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.

(With files from The Associated Press)

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