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You’ve Never Seen a Smoke Detector Like This

Two years ago, Tony Fadell, inventor of the iPod and chief executive of Nest Labs, applied Apple-style design savvy to remaking the humble thermostat. Now, Fadell and company have updated another unloved household staple: the smoke detector.

Like Nest’s Learning Thermostat, the forthcoming Nest Protect smoke and carbon monoxide alarm offers a smarter, more user-friendly take on a boring-but-functional appliance, albeit it for about four times the cost of its simpler cousins.

“We want to take things you already know and reinvent them,” Fadell said of Nest’s design philosophy. “We don’t need new products. We need to take existing products and make them better.”

Marketed with the motto, “Safety shouldn’t be annoying,” Nest Protect has features that make it easier to silence during false alarms and supplements the traditional strident beeping with spoken alerts and color-coded signals.

Think of it as the politest smoke alarm ever. Nest Protect’s “Heads Up” function will alert homeowners to the presence of smoke or carbon monoxide before it reaches emergency levels and then allow them to dismiss the alarm with the wave of a hand. In theory, that means no more flapping dishtowels when burnt toast or a particularly smoky cut of steak set off the sensor. To indicate it has sufficient battery, the device glows green when the lights in the room are turned off. And thanks to its motion sensors, Nest can even act as a nightlight, glowing faintly when it perceives motion in a dark hallway.

The new smoke alarm is still undergoing testing by independent agencies to ensure that it meets safety standards. Nest expects it to go on sale in November

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