Google Nest’s Latest Software Update Switches on a Dormant Sensor


Since a long time, machines have been found to struggle to perform the way humans expect them to. Time and again humans have had the opportunity to glean and learn from their mistakes by observing machine behavior, and then come up with changes that enhanced their functionality. This is an iterative process and a pretty fascinating quirk of human nature.

Nest Thermostat

What brings us to this snippet of philosophical insight is Google Nest’s smoke and CO detector, which has undergone a similar experience.

Nest’s rise from the past

Nest has come a long way from its first-gen learning thermostat to its elegant and sleek second-gen thermostat, which has nearly no competition. And as is known, it has gained ground primarily due to its ability to learn thermal and cooling patterns and adjust itself over time, so you don’t have to concern yourself with programming it every now and then.

Nest’s Protect smoke detector, however, has been making headlines for both good and bad reasons from a couple of months, but first off let’s see what’s so different about it. Protect smoke detector was launched last year and before long earned itself the title of ‘smart’ smoke and CO alarm. It’s so because it could do internet-of-things with your smartphone and give regular updates on the status of smoke and CO levels from your home – pretty smart isn’t it? And it doesn’t end there, when the Protect CO alarm goes off in one of the rooms of your home, it works hand in hand with Nest Thermostat to turn off the possible source of CO such as lantern, gas furnace or heating systems.

Again, it doesn’t end there. There are other big features this small device offers, unfortunately discussing all those is a subject of detailed technical review. Now, coming to the point of setback news; Nest had proudly claimed that its smoke detector comes with the feature called Nest Wave, which allows false smoke alarm to be silenced by mere wave of a hand. However, a test at Nest Labs raised doubt about its functionality in a “unique combination of circumstances.” which had the ability to silence the alarm by any other movements near the device other than for a hand wave. This could potentially keep or delay smoke alarm from going off at the time of a real alarm.

Software update to fix the glitch

With Protect 2.0 update, Nest made a smart move by bringing to use the unused humidity sensor which was already present in the device. So, does this resolve the “hand wave” issue? Not really. However, the algorithm in this update enables the detector from distinguishing between smoke and steam, as part of its new Smoke Check feature – halving the number of false alarms from going off.

This update comes with a slew of cool features like giving alert history to users using their smartphones, carbon monoxide level, gives access to its API so other devices could be synced up with Nest products.