Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL)’s Nest, the manufacturer of smart, networked thermostats, announced that it is providing a new software update for its $100 smoke and C0 detector, the Nest Protect. According to the September 4th statement from the company, the 2.0 update will introduce several new features, including activating an until now dormant humidity sensor so the device can now distinguish between smoke and steam.
Experts note that steam is a common problem for smoke detectors, because smoke particles and steam particles appear similar to the sensing technology of most detectors, which measure the level of obfuscation (blockage of light) in the air. Being able to determine the humidity will enable smoke detectors to solve this problem.
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Statement from Nest
“We wanted to do this from start,” noted Maxime Veron, chief of product marketing at Nest, in a recent phone interview with Forbes. “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.”
More details on Nest’s 2.0 update
Some of the other features Nest included in its 2.0 update is showing you carbon monoxide levels, enabling adjustments of the brightness of the light on the device, and giving users a history of the alerts via the Nest smartphone app.
Nest has been gathering data regarding how Nest Protect owners use the device over the last year or so, and used the data to inform decisions regarding its update.
Given this 2.0 update is not that big a deal, the ability to switch on a dormant sensor in a device remotely to create brand new functions is a clear illustration of how smart products like Nest’s can evolve over time.
Nest has been active since acquisition by Google
Nest has clearly been given free rein by Google Management. Earlier this summer, Nest acquired Dropcam, the designer of a cloud-based video monitoring system, with cash from Google. Nest has plans to integrate Dropcam into both its thermostats and smoke and C0 detector. The company also recently decided to open up its API so developers could create apps to sync up other devices with Nest products.