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Google pays $3.2bn for smoke alarms

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Image of Google logoBurning toast is most people’s idea of testing their smoke detector… and the irritating contraptions have a habit of making themselves known at 2am when their batteries need replacing. For most, they’re a wall decoration at best, a nuisance at worst. And we’re all a little sick of them crying wolf. Not anymore. You’ve probably heard, but Google has just acquired Nest Labs for the grand total of $3.2bn – that’s more than they spent on YouTube! But why? Why would Google spend so much on a smoke detector and thermostat?

What is Nest Labs?

Nest Labs was founded in 2010 by two former Apple employees, Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers. The duo reimagined the home, and set out on a venture to provide us with the smart home we’ve all been dreaming of. One that will allow us to control and connect everything in our home – from security and heating to lighting and water – all via any internet connected device.

What is the Nest Protect detector?

In 2013, came the Nest Protect, combined smoke and carbon monoxide detector. And the snazzy contraption does have some flash features. It was designed on the basis that the smoke detector has become annoying, which is a safety issue. The painfully shrieking pitches are replaced with a human voice. If you burn your morning toast, you’ll get a polite little warning before the alarm starts howling. If there is a false alarm, you don’t have to brandish a towel about beneath the detector – you can be silence it with a simple hand wave. Aside from removing annoyances, it actually does seem safer. It networks with other Nest detectors in your home, so if there’s a fire in the living room, the detector in your bedroom will know about it. It’ll also communicate with the thermostat (which controls your air conditioning, heating and ventilation to efficiently maintain your preferred temperature). If there’s a CO leak, for instance, the detector will tell the thermostat to turn off the gas. You can buy a Nest Protect alarm in the UK for £109…quite pricey. But is it worth it? Google seems to think so. Click here for a guide to domestic smoke alarms photo credit: FindYourSearch via photopin cc
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