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Nest Halts Sales of Smart Fire Alarm After Discovering Dangerous Flaw

Soulskill posted about 7 months ago | from the out-of-the-frying-pan dept.

Bug 128

fructose writes: "The Nest Protect has a flaw in its software that, under the right circumstances, could disable the alarm and not notify the owners of a fire. To remedy this flaw, they are disabling the Nest Wave feature through automatic updates. Owners who don't have their Nest Protects connected to their WiFi net or don't have a Nest account are suggested to either update the device manually or return it to Nest for a full refund. While they work out the problem, all sales are being halted to prevent unsafe units from being sold. There have been no reported incidents resulting from this flaw, but they aren't taking any chances."

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Sounds Prudent (2)

Giant Electronic Bra (1229876) | about 7 months ago | (#46665017)

Just goes to show, there's no such thing as enough SQA...

Re:Sounds Prudent (2)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 7 months ago | (#46665117)

Just goes to show, there's no such thing as enough SQA...

Sometimes I wonder if there such a thing as *any* SQA...

Re:Sounds Prudent (2, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | about 7 months ago | (#46665195)

Just goes to show, there's no such thing as enough SQA...

Sometimes I wonder if there such a thing as *any* SQA...

This mesage appproved by Slashtod Quallity Assurence

Re:Sounds Prudent (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46665639)

Well, the alarms in all three houses they burned down worked fine, they should have tried a fourth?

Re:Sounds Prudent (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 7 months ago | (#46666089)

"The only way to be sure there are no bugs is to never find any, no matter how much you test"

Re:Sounds Prudent (1)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | about 7 months ago | (#46667453)

The feature in question apparently deactivates the alarm if you wave your hand anywhere from 2 to 8 feet beneath the unit. How they possibly thought that this wouldn't be accidentally triggered is beyond me. Something tells me that they didn't actually do very much QA at all.

Wow (1)

Redmancometh (2676319) | about 7 months ago | (#46665047)

Is this a flaw in something being handled responsibly? I'm not really sure, because I've never seen that happen. I'm not surprised they pulled it, etc, but I am kind of surprised about the option "bring it back for a full refund."

Re:Wow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46665069)

Company does the right thing. I wonder if they sell anything I can afford.

Re:Wow (0)

parallel_prankster (1455313) | about 7 months ago | (#46665081)

I did not RTFA in depth but I am surprised that they did not have a mechanism to fix it remotely via updates of something. In these kinda devices you have to always assume there will be a failure and there should be a backup mechanism to be able to do quick updates. Think/develop it like the Curiosity the moon rover. There is no possibility of re-call and fix must be made really quick.

Re:Wow (3, Insightful)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about 7 months ago | (#46665101)

I did not RTFA in depth but I am surprised that they did not have a mechanism to fix it remotely via updates of something.

Straight from the summary:

they are disabling the Nest Wave feature through automatic updates. Owners who don't have their Nest Protects connected to their WiFi net or don't have a Nest account are suggested to either update the device manually or return it to Nest for a full refund

Re:Wow (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about 7 months ago | (#46665121)

I did not RTFA in depth but I am surprised that they did not have a mechanism to fix it remotely via updates of something. In these kinda devices you have to always assume there will be a failure and there should be a backup mechanism to be able to do quick updates. Think/develop it like the Curiosity the moon rover. There is no possibility of re-call and fix must be made really quick.

Apparently you didn't RTFS either.
Wifi-connected units can be patched. Others can be patched manually by the user. Clueless users without an account can return it for a refund (or an updated unit, of course).

The internet of things...that might get you killed (5, Insightful)

NotDrWho (3543773) | about 7 months ago | (#46665061)

Some things are important enough to

a) keep simple, and
b) keep offline

Re:The internet of things...that might get you kil (3, Insightful)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 7 months ago | (#46665143)

doubleplus one. today we spend a bunch of money on new stuff that duplicates the functionality of old stuff. recently I spent $15 on an LED bulb and $15 on a dimmer lamp socket so I could have a dimmable lamp, something we had with the first electric lamps 100 years ago, and something we've had with oil lamps for 300 years.

Re:The internet of things...that might get you kil (1)

compro01 (777531) | about 7 months ago | (#46665187)

today we spend a bunch of money on new stuff that duplicates the functionality of old stuff. recently I spent $15 on an LED bulb and $15 on a dimmer lamp socket so I could have a dimmable lamp, something we had with the first electric lamps 100 years ago, and something we've had with oil lamps for 300 years.

And the new stuff does the same thing while needing about 1/5th as much power as the old stuff.

Re:The internet of things...that might get you kil (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 7 months ago | (#46665629)

And 30 times the price.

I know, over the projected lifetime it costs less. Some of us don't see the value in instalment loans though. I'll gladly pay more over 15 years if it means less out of pocket all at once.

Re:The internet of things...that might get you kil (1)

Narcocide (102829) | about 7 months ago | (#46666609)

You say that now, but after a couple evenings having to smell burning whale-oil while eating dinner I think you'll be ready to pony up a bit extra for modern lighting.

Re:The internet of things...that might get you kil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46667355)

And 30 times the price.

I know, over the projected lifetime it costs less.

The problem is you're not looking at the overall cost of electric demand at 5x less efficiency.

Multiply that across a billion or two people, and the "cost" massively eclipses your rather selfish mentality of having to spend a few more dollars out of pocket.

Re:The internet of things...that might get you kil (1)

Hamsterdan (815291) | about 7 months ago | (#46665775)

And costing 10 times as much. a 50cents lightbulb can be dimmed with a 5$ dimmer

Re:The internet of things...that might get you kil (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 7 months ago | (#46666849)

actually to be fair, I had a devil of a time finding dimmer sockets on the market. maybe now that everybody is using CFLs there's no demand for dimmers? Best I found was Amazon had one for $13.00. A cheap-looking one at that. There's an amazon affiliate called 1000Bulbs that has a wide variety of really nice looking dimmers, but they all have $10 shipping fee each!

Re:The internet of things...that might get you kil (1)

TsuruchiBrian (2731979) | about 7 months ago | (#46665213)

Nothing is preventing you from using old stuff, especially if you don't see the benefit of the new stuff. The ban on old light bulbs was stupid. The right way to get people to be more energy efficient is to charge people the true cost of energy, but that kind of talk doesn't win votes, even with supposed pro free market people.

Re:The internet of things...that might get you kil (1)

sir-gold (949031) | about 7 months ago | (#46665703)

If you did raise the cost of electricity, where would that extra money go? Giving more money to the power company isn't going to reduce climate damage, it would just make the executives and shareholders richer.

Just look at oil. There are already ridiculous markups on oil (and obscenely rich Arabs) but it doesn't stop people from driving gasoline cars.

The only way you could raise the price of electricity to match it's "true cost", while actually paying back the environment, would be to put the extra money into environmental restoration or renewable energy projects. That would require a new tax however, and the people currently in charge of the government are a bunch of tax-hating climate change deniers.

Re:The internet of things...that might get you kil (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 7 months ago | (#46666093)

It doesn't have to be a tax. Requiring scrubbers on coal power plants has raised the price of electricity. Placing limits on the amount of carbon they're allowed to emit would raise it more.

Re:The internet of things...that might get you kil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46666101)

Look up "revenue-netural carbon tax". There's a few different ways it could be implemented, but the general theory is that you want to price the externality of carbon without making goods more unaffordable for poor people.

Re:The internet of things...that might get you kil (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | about 7 months ago | (#46666145)

Correct. There are not nearly enough taxes.

The list of things I do not like and the list of things that should have taxes put upon them correlates fairly well.

Pay for people to do what you want. (Quit working and have\abort babies.)

Tax what you want people to do less. (Make money, Drive, Smoke, Drink)

Put people in prison for what you do not want them doing. (Murder (of people living over 3 minutes), paying for sex, trading stocks when you know for a fact the will go up or down, ratting out the government)

Re:The internet of things...that might get you kil (1)

TsuruchiBrian (2731979) | about 7 months ago | (#46666215)

I didn't say the cost of electricity should be raised. I said we should charge the true cost of electricity. *If* the true cost of electricity is higher than what is being charged, it could mean a few things.

It could mean that somewhere someone is getting subsidies or we are polluting the environment, and raising the price of electricity would offset the need for those subsidies.

It could also mean that producing the electricity involves some kind of externality like pollution/co2 that we as citizens of the earth are actually paying, and setting the price of electricity to the true cost would involve forcing the producers to mitigate the pollution and co2 and pass that cost on to consumers.

So no it doesn't have to be a tax. It can be removal of subsidies. It can be more strict pollution laws. It can be requiring carbon offsets (e.g. planting trees, etc) for energy producers.

Re:The internet of things...that might get you kil (1)

sir-gold (949031) | about 7 months ago | (#46666503)

In most areas the cost of electricity is heavily regulated, and in Minnesota and Wisconsin (xcel energy), the actual production costs are broken down in detail on every single monthly bill. We pay X cents per KwH for the power plant, and Y cents for the lines, and Z cents for administration, etc. and when the power company wants to change their rates they have to get approval from the state. I don't know about other parts of the country, but here atleast, they aren't selling below cost

Re:The internet of things...that might get you kil (1)

TsuruchiBrian (2731979) | about 7 months ago | (#46666773)

Are they factoring in carbon offsets and the costs of mitigating the pollution they cause?

Re:The internet of things...that might get you kil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46665419)

And to think, if only the lamp manufacturer had built an LED lamp in the first place, they could have designed in a system for you to control the light (with a far finer degree of control than is possible with an incandescent bulb), for probably a tenth what you paid.

Instead, they don't bother because you don't even know enough to demand it.

Re:The internet of things...that might get you kil (1)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 7 months ago | (#46666871)

or, I already have lamps that I like and do not feel like buying new ones.

Re:The internet of things...that might get you kil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46667417)

Well, guess what? Great news! The same thing could have been done with your exact same lamps! Without an extra socket, because it IS possible to build an LED bulb with a built-in dimmer. Heck, they can do it while adding a remote control and color-change options, a simple dimmer switch? Not very expensive.

You only had to spend as much as you did because they could take advantage of you simply not knowing enough to demand a more cost-effective solution, not because of any real costs involved.

Don't feel bad about it though, it's hard to know everything and sometimes you just get screwed because you don't know enough to know better.

Re:The internet of things...that might get you kil (2)

invisibletank (2920371) | about 7 months ago | (#46665163)

Completely agree. This is somewhat along the same line: I don't want a smart fridge - someone might hack in and turn up the temp just enough so I don't notice but enough to cause me to get food poisoning from the warmer temp. Of course they'd disable the temp alarm in the process. I don't want someone turning on my smart toaster and burning my house down, or causing my dishwasher or washing machine to flood the house. That's the problem with the internet of things - it will never be 100% secure.

Re:The internet of things...that might get you kil (1)

TsuruchiBrian (2731979) | about 7 months ago | (#46665277)

And yet people are still willing to trade security for convenience... Driving to work will never be 100% secure.

Even if some people were actually killed by fires caused by smart appliances (which I am not aware of any), the convenience of being able to turn up my thermostat an half an hour before I come home outweighs the danger, in the sam way that the convenience of driving my car to work outweighs the danger.

Nothing is 100% safe. And this is an impossible standard to meet. Everything we do in life is a calculated risk. I think fixing safety issues as they are discovered is a perfectly reasonable course of action.

Yes connecting to the internet allows the possibility of my smoke detector to be hacked. It also allows me to be alerted if it goes off when I am not at home. I think the benefit of scenario 2 is worth the risk of scenario 1.

Re:The internet of things...that might get you kil (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 7 months ago | (#46665755)

The reserve parachute makes skydiving reasonably safe too. But it would be proposterous to think others would feel the same way and everyone would endorse it.

Different people are different. What you accept doesn't have to be what they accept. In a free world, this should be the norm and we need to understand that. I personally do not want those internet of things because i don't want my appliances sending information to anyone at all. The NSA already listens in on our phone sex. They don't need to know that i eat crackers in bed or how often i wash my socks.

Re:The internet of things...that might get you kil (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | about 7 months ago | (#46665825)

Almost all the reasonable suggestions I've seen for internet-connected things (coffee in the morning, lights as I come in, etc) have already been solved with timers (coffee, thermostat, etc) or motion sensors (lights). Most people who complain about motion-sensed lights are doing it wrong anyways. CFL's (what most people use now thanks to various laws) burn out really fast if they are turned on for less than 15 minutes (it's the actual time duration, NOT just the number of cycles), so they just need to adjust the timer for longer durations and you can still have an override switch if you want it.

But seriously, we don't need everything connected to the internet. In the case of fire alarms (like in this article), wire them in with battery backups and connect them to the phone line (outgoing only), that's ALL they need.

Re:The internet of things...that might get you kil (1)

TsuruchiBrian (2731979) | about 7 months ago | (#46666377)

Almost all the reasonable suggestions I've seen for internet-connected things (coffee in the morning, lights as I come in, etc) have already been solved with timers (coffee, thermostat, etc) or motion sensors (lights).

Timers only effectively control things that need to happen at the same time everyday. I don't want my heater to come on at the same time everyday. I want it to come on 30 minutes before I get home, which is different depending on what happens during the day.

I would actually much prefer an alert that goes over the internet to my phone than an actual phone call. For one thing, I don't actually have a landline. For another, I usually let phone calls go to voicemail.

Re:The internet of things...that might get you kil (1)

WaffleMonster (969671) | about 7 months ago | (#46666451)

And yet people are still willing to trade security for convenience... Driving to work will never be 100% secure.

Driving drunk is still more convenient than calling a cab or bugging a friend. Driving drunk will never be 100% secure.

Nothing is 100% safe. And this is an impossible standard to meet. Everything we do in life is a calculated risk. I think fixing safety issues as they are discovered is a perfectly reasonable course of action.

Non-Falsifiable statements convey no useful information. I can respond to any mishap or failure with the same verbiage and have no more or less a valid point.

Whether it is "driving drunk" or "driving sober to work" neither activity is 100% secure.

Yes connecting to the internet allows the possibility of my smoke detector to be hacked. It also allows me to be alerted if it goes off when I am not at home. I think the benefit of scenario 2 is worth the risk of scenario 1.

The hell it is. If a fire starts when your away chances are your still looking at significant/total loss from fire and or water damage from efforts to stop the fire.. by time monitoring company farts around with your contact list, finally calls the fire department and fire department arrives.

Shit can be replaced (e.g. filing insurance claim) people not so much.

Re:The internet of things...that might get you kil (1)

TsuruchiBrian (2731979) | about 7 months ago | (#46666769)

Driving drunk is still more convenient than calling a cab or bugging a friend. Driving drunk will never be 100% secure.

I guess it could be depending on how drunk you are. If you are so drunk that the likelihood of killing other people or yourself is significant than those sorts of consequences make things decidedly less convenient (given that death is pretty inconvenient).

Non-Falsifiable statements convey no useful information. I can respond to any mishap or failure with the same verbiage and have no more or less a valid point.

When I say "A is possible" it does not imply "A always happens"

What I am advocating is to use judgement rather than an absolute rule to accept no risk, or extreme risk, which you did not seem to understand.

Falsifiable claims (i.e. scientific/empirical claims) are not the only statements that convey useful information. Logical arguments (which is what I was making), do not need to be falsifiable.

I could say "If all unicorns are purple, then if you find a unicorn, it will be purple". That's not really a falsifiable claim. There is no experiment you could (or should do) to verify this. It's a logical claim.

Maybe you just learned the term "falsifiable", if so I will offer you some advice that you are using it wrong.

Whether it is "driving drunk" or "driving sober to work" neither activity is 100% secure.

So now all the people who think driving drunk is safe can stop worrying about things that are not as dangerous as drunk driving.

The hell it is. If a fire starts when your away chances are your still looking at significant/total loss from fire and or water damage from efforts to stop the fire.. by time monitoring company farts around with your contact list, finally calls the fire department and fire department arrives.

I didn't say that the benefit was immense. I said it outweighed the risk of hacking.

Re:The internet of things...that might get you kil (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about 7 months ago | (#46665205)

Some things are important enough to

a) keep simple, and
b) keep offline

While that's true, it's also flying in the face of Progress We must strive to make things as complicated and feature rich as possible (and also shiny).

See, it worked, it detected the fire by melting. Success!

Re:The internet of things...that might get you kil (1)

hey! (33014) | about 7 months ago | (#46665303)

This is something software engineers should have learned in school. Sometimes a software failure can kill. Did they make *you* study the Therac-25 incident? I bet they didn't, much less to do when confronted with a project which puts lives in danger.

It must have seemed like a no-brainer to go from making thermostats to fire alarms, but I would be very, very reluctant to work on such a project. There's something ethically questionable about replacing a simple, highly effective device that saves lives with a more complex replacement. Even -- or perhaps especially -- if the replacement offers conveniences that simple device doesn't.

Re:The internet of things...that might get you kil (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | about 7 months ago | (#46666083)

Were people actually *replacing* their existing fire alarms with this instead of just supplementing them? I would think that "return for a refund" would also mean "and buy some damn tried-and-true smoke detectors".

Re:The internet of things...that might get you kil (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 7 months ago | (#46666121)

I made a similar comment on the story about NEST first releasing their smoke detector. And yes, I did have to study the Therac-25. Software, physics and biology.

Re:The internet of things...that might get you kil (1)

recharged95 (782975) | about 7 months ago | (#46665481)

Actually, it's welcome to the silicon valley, venture capital backed, google always in beta Internet of Things.

Honestly, if Honeywell or some other non-SV-VC-Google-Facebook-Cisco-Apple company released something similar, the turn out would be more like: the UI crash again, but the basic function (detecting a fire) still works fine.

Re:The internet of things...that might get you kil (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46665659)

Some things are important enough to

a) keep simple, and
b) keep offline

And some things are important enough to network. If the guy in the apartment next door to me sets fire to his meth lab, I appreciate the fact that my fire alarm is supposed to go off too.

Re:The internet of things...that might get you kil (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | about 7 months ago | (#46666175)

Would you rather it
A) always go off and everyone notice the VERY loud noise it's making from the other side of the wall.
B) probably go off and alert you as well.

Most new appartments (that would have something like this in the first place) already have analog (very simple, no internet) interconnected fire alarms that can even phone the fire department automatically.

Re:The internet of things...that might get you kil (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | about 7 months ago | (#46665855)

Lots of advantages in having things online, or at least connected to a home automation controller. If there's a problem (fire, burglary, water leak) the system can take action and / or notify you. And sometimes there are good reasons to add a few features (adding complexity).

With that said, most home automation enthusiasts recognize that these systems are not as reliable as their more simple counterparts. Current best practice for stuff like this is to use standard smoke detectors wired into a conventional alarm panel, then hook up the alarm panel to the home automation controller. I have some smart-ish smoke detectors, they are regular detectors with a wireless (Z-wave, not WiFi) chip bolted onto the connection meant to go to an alarm panel. That means I'll be notified when it goes off, but if the HA system fails for whatever reason, the detector will still beep is there's smoke.

Re:The internet of things...that might get you kil (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 7 months ago | (#46666711)

It won't get me killed, because I'd have for every Nest protect, the older nearby simple detector detected hardwired to the building fire alarm.

See.... I don't trust any one smoke detector. Always install two in a room -- in pairs and test weekly.

Make it as simple as possible, but no simpler (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46665065)

A smoke alarm with software seems like it's not as simple as possible.

Does everything need to be smart? (4, Insightful)

pr0nbot (313417) | about 7 months ago | (#46665077)

I think a fire alarm is an instance where I'd like something to have as simple and foolproof a mechanism as possible. I suppose a smart alarm could perhaps call the emergency services or something... but I'd still probably combine it with a bog standard fire alarm.

Re:Does everything need to be smart? (5, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | about 7 months ago | (#46665131)

I think a fire alarm is an instance where I'd like something to have as simple and foolproof a mechanism as possible.

Yes. That's why fire sprinklers are so successful. There's nothing between the water and the fire except a low-melting-point component in the sprinkler head.

This is an example of webcrap-level programmers doing things they're not qualified to do. I'm beginning to think that "Internet of Things" programmers should be required to have Registered Professional Engineer credentials, like structural engineers.

Re:Does everything need to be smart? (2)

twotacocombo (1529393) | about 7 months ago | (#46665225)

Yes. That's why fire sprinklers are so successful. There's nothing between the water and the fire except a low-melting-point component in the sprinkler head.

The fire sprinklers with the visible glass tubes are activated when heat causes the liquid inside to expand, shattering the glass and opening the valve. No melting occurs.

Re:Does everything need to be smart? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46665391)

Yes. That's why fire sprinklers are so successful. There's nothing between the water and the fire except a low-melting-point component in the sprinkler head.

The fire sprinklers with the visible glass tubes are activated when heat causes the liquid inside to expand, shattering the glass and opening the valve. No melting occurs.

True. And in the low melting point variety previously mentioned, no shattering of glass occurs.

So your point is?

Re:Does everything need to be smart? (1)

Jerrry (43027) | about 7 months ago | (#46665389)

"Yes. That's why fire sprinklers are so successful. There's nothing between the water and the fire except a low-melting-point component in the sprinkler head."

Sprinklers are something you really don't want to fail, because both scenarios are destructive. If the sprinklers fail to work as designed, your house burns down. If they go off without a fire, you have lots of water damage, which is almost as expensive to fix as fire/smoke damage.

Re:Does everything need to be smart? (1)

recharged95 (782975) | about 7 months ago | (#46665503)

Webdevs did not develop this--would even work in the 1st place if so.

I'm sure Nest had their hardware engineers, aka "Makers", design this. Cause the integration between the web-enabled part and critical R/T hardware is [now] obviously terrible. Should have had some real h/w engineers design this.

Sure puts a black eye on them considering all the hoopla last month w/Google buying them out.

Re:Does everything need to be smart? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46665597)

Um, there's no need to take a clumsy dig at webdevs. There's a large body of crap programmers out there in pretty much every segment of the industry, and falling back on webdevs as the benchmark for "shitty code" is being wholly unfair to them and sugarcoating how bad they are in other fields.

Re:Does everything need to be smart? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46667147)

You can blame the idiots that make up the 'whatever' [eyes rolling] standards for that. And I will remind you those standards include what materials the building can be built with, including how to display and store flammable materials, including clothing.

  ""programmers should be required to have Registered Professional Engineer credentials, like structural engineers""

You just complained about the fire systems in buildings, if these people refuse to change the standards until thousands are killed, or hundreds of building are destroyed what makes you think having something in place like that is going to force companies to build 'smart' devices that are as secure as possible. They'll just figure out some sub-standard test for those to become certified.

I was a firefighter and got sick and tired of the sub-standards fire companies use. And the sub standards and arrogance of Fire Marshals. And the powers at be that refuse to change a damn thing.
 

Re:Does everything need to be smart? (4, Insightful)

gander666 (723553) | about 7 months ago | (#46665147)

YMMV, but my house is wired for a burglar alarm. It is monitored. All the smoke detectors are wired to the main alarm. If one of them goes off, the alarm system notifies the monitoring company, and they call me to see if there is a fire (actually looking for false alarm). If I don't respond, they send the fire department. It is the ONLY reason there is a land line at my house these days.

My understanding is that Nest does this via Wifi. In the event of an emergency, I trust the POTS far more than the cable internet and wifi to call the cavalry. Perhaps one day Nest will make this all fool proof. But until that day, I will stick with the land line/alarm monitor.

Oh, the monthly cost to monitor is like $6.00.

Re:Does everything need to be smart? (1)

TsuruchiBrian (2731979) | about 7 months ago | (#46665299)

I think POTS is probably more reliable than wifi, but one nice thing about wifi is that rodents can't chew through wires that aren't there.

Re:Does everything need to be smart? (1)

ModernGeek (601932) | about 7 months ago | (#46665439)

Yeah, but the WiFi Router is going to be plugged into a telephone, coax, or fiber line that is just as vulnerable to being cut.

Re:Does everything need to be smart? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46665339)

Your understanding is wrong.

Like the uber-popular smoke detector brand Kidde URL:http://www.kidde.com/kiddewireless/pages/kiddewirelesshome.aspx#.Uz8pa6a9K0c, Nest sells both detectors that intercommunicate via hard-wired connections and detectors that do so via wireless connections. And neither the Nest nor Kidde ones can notify a monitoring company.

One crappy point with the Nest wired ones is that there is no way to get them to communicate with wired detectors from other brands. As far as I know, nobody's wireless ones can operate cross-brand except through a wireless-wired bridge module.

Re:Does everything need to be smart? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 7 months ago | (#46665663)

" It is the ONLY reason there is a land line at my house these days."
no, just order and have installed the GSM radio module and get rid of the home phone line. the $250 for the module and additional $3.99 a month pays for it's self in 5 months of paying for a land line.

Re:Does everything need to be smart? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46666337)

I'm curious, where does one find a landline that costs $54/month?

Re:Does everything need to be smart? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 7 months ago | (#46666817)

Michigan. and it was $65.00 a month.

Re:Does everything need to be smart? (1)

swinefc (91418) | about 7 months ago | (#46665179)

The smart feature is the one they disabled. It is a feature called wave to dismiss. It's the entire reason I bought one. My wife often burns things in the oven and sets off the smoke detector. The wave to dismiss feature gave us an option besides taking out the battery.

I hear you thinking: get a smarter wife and not a smarter smoke detector. C'est la vie

Re:Does everything need to be smart? (1)

sir-gold (949031) | about 7 months ago | (#46665741)

They make basic smoke alarms with "bad cook" buttons that disable the alarm for a 10-20 minutes when pressed. The button is big enough that you can poke it with a broom handle if it's too far from the floor

Re:Does everything need to be smart? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46665751)

Listen, I have two fire alarms. Scratch that -- I have one "I'm taking a shower" alarm and one "I'm cooking dinner" alarm. (I realize showering and cooking is probably a foreign concept to much of slashdot) Neither of them can detect a fire since the batteries are removed.

Bad idea to begin with (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46665103)

How could someone think the idea of waving your hand to silence a fire alarm would be a good idea? That could easily happen when groggily being woken up, waving, then dropping back into a deep sleep and suffocating - not a very well thought out idea IMHO

Re:Bad idea to begin with (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 7 months ago | (#46665133)

Hahah yeah, a smoke detector with a "Snooze" button.

Re:Bad idea to begin with (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about 7 months ago | (#46665149)

How could someone think the idea of waving your hand to silence a fire alarm would be a good idea? That could easily happen when groggily being woken up, waving, then dropping back into a deep sleep and suffocating - not a very well thought out idea IMHO

Worse than that, it will easily happen when the first person near the fire starts waving their arms about in response to the fire (either in panic, trying to smother it, etc.).

Re:Bad idea to begin with (1)

kurzweilfreak (829276) | about 7 months ago | (#46665641)

Someone that is waving their arms in response to the fire has obviously already detected and is aware of the fire. At that point, it doesn't really matter if your fire alarm shuts off since the person is already alarmed...

Re:Bad idea to begin with (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about 7 months ago | (#46666163)

Someone that is waving their arms in response to the fire has obviously already detected and is aware of the fire. At that point, it doesn't really matter if your fire alarm shuts off since the person is already alarmed...

Others in the house / same building may have heard the alarm but did not see the flames or the person fighting with them. When the alarm is quickly shut off, they assume it was a false alarm. But if the alarm shuts off and the fire is still going those people are screwed.

You cannot rely on the first responder (who is likely the idiot who started the fire) to take appropriate action. Even if the alarm retriggers in 10 seconds, or if people notice the fire or the flailing idiot after 10 seconds, that's still 10 seconds wasted. 10 seconds is the difference between a call to Servpro and the loss of 6 apartment units. 10 seconds is the difference between a few burns and smoke inhalation and death.

There's a reason we don't allow commercial/industrial fire alarms to be deactivated by anyone but the fire department.

Re:Bad idea to begin with (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46665261)

How could someone think the idea of waving your hand to silence a fire alarm would be a good idea? That could easily happen when groggily being woken up, waving, then dropping back into a deep sleep and suffocating - not a very well thought out idea IMHO

I can rip it off the walk and throw it smash it against the floor too. Is that a flaw? BTW, I've actually done that when I replaced the battery the day before and it still started chirping in the middle of the night. Not an actual alarm signal.

When I buy smoke detectors, if they are near the kitchen, I always get ones that have a disable button. The problem here isn't the existence of the button (or hand wave in the case of the too cool Nest). The problem is the function triggering without user intent.

Sometimes smart is stupid. (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 7 months ago | (#46665107)

Keep it simple, stupid.

Flaw? (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 7 months ago | (#46665141)

They did a test of that thing on the news the other day; it detected carbon monoxide and smoulder-type fires just fine.

What it failed to do was detect an actual fire that didn't produce much, if any, smoke.

Maybe they should just relabel it as the "Nest Toxic Chemical Detector."

Re:Flaw? (1)

adisakp (705706) | about 7 months ago | (#46665191)

What it failed to do was detect an actual fire that didn't produce much, if any, smoke.

How does and old fashioned smoke detector fare at detecting fires that don't produce smoke?

Re:Flaw? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46665461)

Poorly, which is why there are ones with 'flame detection', looking for the thermal bloom.

Re:Flaw? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46665485)

Depends on if its an old-fashioned ionization or old-fashioned photo-electric smoke detector.

Re:Flaw? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46665491)

by using heat?

Re:Flaw? (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 7 months ago | (#46665651)

You mean like a gas fire? because a fire that is burning your home or it's contents will produce smoke.

Re:Flaw? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46665653)

That's because it doesn't have both an ionizing and a photoelectric sensor. One is better with smoldering fires (photoelectric), the other one with a hot fire producing small particles (ionizing).* The interlinked Kiddie units I have do both.

Heat detection really isn't a great option compared to ionizing or photoelectric, but does work better in "dirtier" environments say located near an old furnace in a basement or other dusty/dirty areas.

* https://www.nfpa.org/safety-information/for-consumers/fire-and-safety-equipment/smoke-alarms/ionization-vs-photoelectric

Re:Flaw? (1)

sir-gold (949031) | about 7 months ago | (#46665793)

The vast majority of people who die in a building fire died because of toxic fumes, not because of actual fire. A smokeless fire isn't really dangerous to you unless you are near it (you would feel the heat) or it is large enough to compromise the building structure.

Also, a smokeless housefire is pretty much impossible, there aren't that many materials in common use that burn that cleanly

Waving Arms Disables Alarm (1)

adisakp (705706) | about 7 months ago | (#46665169)

So if you are running down the hallway waving your arms as you escape the building during a fire, you might disable the alarm before it warns other people.

Nest Halts Sales of Smart Fire Alarm After... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46665233)

...they discovered a fatal flaw. What, they discovered the downside to their protection racket deal with Intellectual Ventures? To me, that seems like THE fatal flaw to end them all - just like paying the mafia to prevent your business from 'accidentally' being the victim of an unfortunate and preventable mass gang attack with firebombs.

Waving your hand to accidentally turn off the alarm is mild in comparison.

Fix that shit first - then worry about your products.

First rule of engineering... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46665247)

Don't over-complicate the shit that has to just work.

Seems like smoke-detectors were doing just fine before this really bad idea came along.

Then Google sees an opportunity to gather more intelligence on its products via home surveillance and suddenly people line up for these things. Some people are their own worst enemies.

Super bad idea to disable wave feature arbitrarily (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 7 months ago | (#46665253)

I can see why they would do this, if they feel the alarm might not go off in some cases.

But they should only dose if they detect a significant cumber of linked alarms.

I was thinking about getting one of these for the kitchen, but I've had several false alarms from cooking incidents over the last few years. I cannot have an alarm in the kitchen I cannot disable in that case, and real fires can still be detected by all of the other alarms in the house even if the Nest did not go off.

You might say you can just leave the house for a while, but what if you have a lot of pets? And you can't leave the house with windows wide open anyway.

It's not a great idea to have any kind of alarm you cannot override which is what the Nest has now become.

Re:Super bad idea to disable wave feature arbitrar (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46665607)

It is not a good idea to put a carbon monoxide detector in or near a kitchen. The cooking residue in the air fouls the carbon monoxide detectors causing them to not function properly. Also, generally CO detectors only last a few years. My last one timed out at 7 years to the day and ceased to operate because that's how long until the sensor is no good anymore. Granted there are different kinds of sensors and I don't know what the Nest uses, but generally the longer lasting sensors don't respond as quickly, which is something you really need with CO. So, unless they use a replaceable cartridge or one of the not quick sensors, you're going to have to replace your whole nest in 5-7 years when the CO detector goes out. This is wasteful for the smoke detection which doesn't have such limitations (or the electronics for that matter).
And while I'm at it, waving your arms to disable the alarm is silly. My 'chained' (when one goes off, all go off) smoke alarms have two buttons... One to test the battery and one to silence the alarm. Good old button! Actually, I guess I really don't get the whole nest smoke alarm thing at all. I have about 10 detectors in my house chained together so that if the one in the hallway for example detects smoke, the alarms in all the bedrooms go off, too... That would be like $1300 of nests to do the same thing and I'm not sure the software would even let it do the same thing. I don't see why I would want to trade this critical alert function away to know remotely my house was smokey.

Wave feature very useful (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 7 months ago | (#46665737)

My 'chained' (when one goes off, all go off) smoke alarms have two buttons... One to test the battery and one to silence the alarm.

I have chained smoke alarms too (though with a single button that either silenced or tests the alarm). The problem is, when it goes off it's too high for even tall person to reach - we have to drag over a chair. It would be very nice to silence it with a simple wave.

I also wondered about the CO2 module needing to be replaced, I have other detectors I replace every few years.

As for the networking, that aspect is nice when you are traveling away from home, especially if you have pets. Then you can be sure at least the house has not burnt down.

Re:Wave feature very useful (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | about 7 months ago | (#46666189)

Maybe some cooking lessons would be easier (and safer)?

Re:Super bad idea to disable wave feature arbitrar (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 7 months ago | (#46665643)

Or don't put it in your kitchen. 99% of the homes do not have a fire alarm in the kitchen. the proper place it to put them on the ceiling in the bedroom above the door if you have bedroom doors closed at night, otherwise they belong outside the sleeping area near the bedroom doors.

http://www.nfpa.org/safety-inf... [nfpa.org]

friv (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46665301)

friv games [my-friv.com]

benten games [benten-game.com]

Nest is an awesome company (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46665307)

We have a store in my area that sells overstocks or damaged returns from places like Target (among other retailers). They had a Nest Thermostat at 40% off. I had been trying to talk myself into buying one for a long time, but the price was too good to pass up so I grabbed it and started trying to install it when I got home.

I followed the instructions, went to the website, ticked off the appropriate boxes as requested, but the website suggested that I might need more specific information. It asked me to take a picture of my current system, e-mail it to support and they would get back with me in "one business day". As this was a Saturday night, I figured I might have to wait until Monday or Tuesday to install my new system. That didn't sit well with me and the printed instructions seemed to make enough sense, so I wired it up as they suggested (and made my best guess about one wire), plugged the dial in and...

It threw an error.

But the error had a URL attached! I visited the URL, it suggested moving the same wire that I was unsure about, and when I plugged the dial back in to the base, it worked!

If the story ended there, I would have been thrilled enough with my purchase to suggest it to everyone I met -- but I still had an open support ticket! Less than 24 hours after I opened the ticket, I receive an e-mail from Nest Support with a customized wiring diagram! On a Sunday! I mean, I've long suspected that I am the most important person on the face of the planet, but it's nice to see a company recognize that...

Seriously, though, they seem to be going the extra mile for a product that they really believe in. I like giving money to companies like that, and once I can afford it, I plan to expand the system with the fire alarms and whatever else they release.

Re:Nest is an awesome company (1)

ledow (319597) | about 7 months ago | (#46665827)

Great. So what's it like as a fucking fire alarm? Because the point of this article is that they are near damn useless.

Personally, anything that is even capable of throwing up a 404 when it should be waking me the fuck up is not something I'd spend any kind of money on. And that's basically the problem behind the recall - wave your arms (e.g. yawning when going to bed) and it just turns itself off and stops detecting for a while. There's no evidence at all that this thing has been designed to life-critical standards (which I would accept for a complex electronic device because, well, air-bags, commercial airplanes, etc. already have that stuff but it's DAMN expensive to do that). As such, it's a pretty toy that you're betting your life on.

Sorry, but there's a reason that some things are just simple. Fuses. Earth cables. Emergency Exit signs. Door handles (at least when trying to exit). Fire alarms.

I put batteries in you. You beep like fuck when you think there's a fire (where the decision is simple and consistent and physical, not an actual "decision" at all - either optical obscurement from smoke or voltage detection in the difference in radiation or however the Americium ones work).

If you want to get REALLY advanced, give me a button to shut you up for 5 minutes for, say, when I've burnt toast and know it and manually activate that mode voluntarily. And you beep like mad and piss me off when your battery is running out so I can't miss the fact (and, no, I don't want them to be mains-wired necessarily as in my country that means I won't buy extra smoke alarms as they would cost a bomb to legally install, plus then you never know that the battery in the thing is actually dead through being charged for ten years constantly).

I'm a geek. I'm very techy. But not everything is improved by adding more technology to it. In fact, quite often the opposite.

Let's not even get into the fact that you basically have a Google-controlled device connected to your internal network with remotely-flashable firmware that you have no control over and no interface in which you can see what it's doing sitting above your head in the living room and able to monitor your body movements. I'm not a conspiracy theorist paranoiac but, fuck, you do have to wonder quite how long it would take for a company that WAS evil to misuse that shit. It just reminds of me of the I, Robot movie (not true to the books, I know) with the sensor-strips.

Obligatory XKCD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46665393)

https://xkcd.com/937/

(plus one Informative) (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46665407)

project somewhere Are i0ncompatible

Nest = crap (1)

pedrop357 (681672) | about 7 months ago | (#46665599)

Given the absurd and idiotic behavior reported by users of the NEST and NEST 2 thermostats, I took one look at this smoke detector's webpage, saw who made it, and basically said "nope" and closed the page.

Thermostats that generate enough of their own heat during operation that they sense the temperature being up to 10 degrees warmer than the room, multiple reports of them not coming on at all in 'vacation home' mode where owners will use them to keep pipes from freezing, oddball lockups that leave houses baking/freezing, etc.

This is in addition to the cloud-only BS way of changing settings.

PISS poor quality control is the only answer I have for the thermostats' behavior.

I can't wait for the smoke detector to just decide not to work, to detect everything as smoke and alarm constantly, or to detect the licking flames as a handwave and disable.

Suprise! (2)

Lumpy (12016) | about 7 months ago | (#46665609)

horribly overpriced toy is not a good fire alarm. A standard fire alarm is very very simple FOR A REASON, it has an incredibly high reliability.

Re:Suprise! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46665739)

Surprise! People still spell it "suprise".

Re:Suprise! (1)

MTEK (2826397) | about 7 months ago | (#46667483)

Yes, reliability is critical, but it's not very useful if no one is home.

Product is broken by default (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 months ago | (#46665627)

Yeah, great Idea having your house connected to the internet. Nothing bad ever happens on the internet. Right?

So much opportunity - Not a Big Deal on the Proble (1)

pubwvj (1045960) | about 7 months ago | (#46666447)

Nest sounds cool. I like the remote off, with no remote device. Could be voice activated instead and that might solve the problem.

This has the potential for a lot of very interesting things. It is a platform for sensors.
Smoke
Fire
CO
CO2
Humidity
Temperature
Air Pressure
Motion Sensor (earthquake)
PA/mic
Camera
WiFi extender ...

Put one outside too. Network and log the data.

Then for people who want to participate, send the data to the weather bureau folks for collecting some seriously large aggregates of data on the environment.

Also useful for businesses. e.g., monitoring processing work rooms, refrigerators and freezers.

There is so much potential here. And if they are manufactured in sufficient quantity it will drive the unit cost down which will lower the price which will increase market penetration so we have nests in everyone's nests.

Right now I have too many different devices all serving these functions. I would rather have several nests around. Then, sure, one will fail but I'll just move a less vital one to it's location while I get a replacement (2 days on Amazon Prime). Hmm... Stick them to the ceiling or wall plate with a magnet. I use magnets for things like this all over the place - works great.

tip of the iceberg (2)

Barbarian (9467) | about 7 months ago | (#46667013)

I'm sure we will see more problems with the internet of things. Just wait until lulz kids figure out how to make smart smoke alarms beep continuously., so people disable the power, or turn the heat up to 100 and then down to 10 ( Fahrenheit). There's not shortage of psychos who like to screw with people (see: webcam hacks and 'slaves'). So it's a matter of time.

Critical life safety devices like Smoke detectors should be a local loop only. You can interconnect, but don't connect to the internet or phones.
If you want a smart one, make it redundant and in addition to the local only alarms. Hook it up to something outside or your alarm company.This is to call the fire department when no one is home. I.e. this is for saving your property.
And control devices like your thermostat should have a local override switch that disables, in hardware, all smart features and turns it into a dumb device

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