U.S. government issues massive recall notice on buggy Nest alarms

The Consumer Product Safety Commission today issued a complete recall of all Nest Protect Smoke + CO alarm systems, over an issue that could silence the devices at a critical time.

The problem, according to a notice posted by the CPSC, is a feature called Nest Wave, which allows users to turn off the audible alarm by gesturing at the device, which is apparently malfunctioning. No injuries or other incidents have been reported.

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"We discovered that movements near the product that are not intended as a wave can be misinterpreted by the Nest Wave algorithm," the company said on its website. "If this occurs during a fire, this could delay the alarm going off."

The issue was first publicized by Nest in a statement released in early April, which halted sales of the company's flagship product until the problem could be fixed.

According to CPSC spokesperson Carl Purvis, the lengthy lag time between Nest's initial announcement of the problem and the CPSC's official recall notice is apparently due to the company's haste to make the news public.

"Typically, companies work with us, and they come to us first we won't make the announcement until our technical staff has had a chance to look at the remedies they propose and ensure that they're what's best for the consumer," Purvis told Network World. He also encouraged consumers to visit www.saferproducts.gov for further information.

This particular recall will be a somewhat unusual one, in that Nest can fix the problem with a remotely delivered software update. Nest owners that have the device connected to the Internet and Nest's servers are asked to confirm that the fix has been delivered and Nest Wave is now deactivated. Those who don't have the alarm connected to Nest are asked to do so immediately, so that they can receive the update.

Nest, which was acquired for $3.2 billion by Google in January, doesn't appear to have dented the parent company's stock price as a result of the recall notice (it was up up 1.7% to $538.94 per share as of this writing).

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

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