The Thermostat

The Smoke Detector

Nest took its design ethics and tackled the smoke detector, a device fraught with false alarms, low-battery chirps and safety issues since many take out the batteries just to get the darn thing to shut up. Nest Protect, which is a smoke and carbon-monoxide detector, tells you audibly or on a smartphone what room the smoke is in and, if the smoke doesn't dissipate, sets off the alarm. If it's just smoke from cooking, you can wave a hand past it to hush it up. Smartphone notifications will let you know when a battery runs low and, most importantly, which detector needs changing.

nest.com

Nest also got the thermostat right back in 2011 with an updated modern look and extremely simple programming. Most important, it learns how home dwellers live -- when they like it toasty and when they prefer to chill. All can be controlled on an iPhone. But Nest wasn't alone. 3M ( MMM) launched its smartphone-controlled Filtrete Wi-Fi Touch Programmable Thermostat back in May 2011. More recently, Honeywell ( HON) added its own app-controlled Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat with voice control, so you tell it, "Make it warmer" to bump up the heat.

nest.com, wifithermostat.com

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