Why One Of The World's Most Brilliant Designers Thinks It's Incredibly Sexy To Reinvent Smoke Detectors

Nest protectNestThe Nest smoke detector.

The world’s best designers want to reinvent some pretty boring objects.

Take, for example, Jony Ive. He’s Apple’s design guru and he recently said if he wasn’t designing hardware, he’d want to give cups a makeover. Tony Fadell, another designer who formerly worked at Apple and helped create the iPod, is dedicating his life to smoke detectors and thermostats.

Fadell runs a smart hardware company, Nest, which is worth almost $US1 billion. Nest’s flagship product was a thermostat that learned your preferences and automatically adjusted your house’s temperature accordingly. Now Nest is building smart smoke detectors which can be turned off by waving a hand in front of it. And instead of beeping, Nest talks to you in a polite manner, like Apple’s Siri.

At Dublin’s Web Summit, Fadell told the audience why smoke detectors are the perfect objects to disrupt.

Fadell explained that today’s smoke detectors are incredibly frustrating and fussy, and yet they’re mandated by the government. You have to have them installed, even if you hate them.

Fadell also says that 72% of fire-related deaths in the United Kingdom are caused by smoke detectors which have either been ripped off the walls by frustrated owners or have dead batteries.

Nest’s smoke detectors change colours when the batteries need to be changed, and give you nightly audio updates about the state of your home. “It lets you know you’re being watched to keep you safe,” says Fadell.

Disclosure: Enterprise Ireland kindly sponsored Business Insider’s trip to cover WebSummit and F.ounders.

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