Nest Labs halts sales of Nest Protect over safety concerns

Nest Labs, the home automation company known for its smart thermostat, said on Thursday that it would be halting sales of its Nest Protect combination smoke and carbon monoxide alarms to address safety concerns.

In a letter on the company's website, CEO Tony Fadell said that recent laboratory tests made them question if the Nest Wave could be unintentionally activated -- causing a delay in the alarm in a real fire.

The wave feature allows owners to turn off false alarms by waving their hands in front of the detector. The function only silences the alarm temporarily, and would sound again if smoky condition persists. When working properly, it cannot be silenced in dense, smoky conditions.

Nest says it will immediately deactivate the feature for devices that are already connected to a Nest account via Wi-Fi, and encouraged consumers to connect to their accounts, so the company can disable Nest Wave remotely. Consumers who don't have Wi-Fi are encouraged to discontinue use and will be given a complete refund.

"We're enormously sorry for the inconvenience caused by this issue," Fadell wrote. "The team and I are dedicated to ensuring that we can stand behind each Nest product that comes into your home, and your 100 percent satisfaction and safety are what motivates us. Please know that the entire Nest team and I are focused on fixing this problem and continuing to improve our current products in every way possible."

Current owners' of Nest products will be updated when Nest fixes the issue, and the company turns the feature back on. However, Fadell says it will only happen after extensive testing and approval from safety agencies in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. He expects this process to take two or three months.

There have been no consumer incidents reported, according to Fadell, but he wants to remove any safety concerns.

Fadell, a former Apple executive, co-founded the company in 2010 with another Apple colleague and launched the Nest thermostat, which can be controlled wirelessly and learn a homeowner's behavior, in 2011. Three years later, Nest was acquired by Google for $3.2 billion in cash.

Learning thermostats, along with other "smart" home appliances, are on the way to becoming mainstream for homeowners. From wearables to smart door locks, Internet-connected, app-controlled, and programmable technologies have become ubiquitous.