Nest Protect: A Smart Smoke Alarm

Steven Levy, writing for Wired:

Nest believes that voice communication boosts safety. The company cites a study by Australian researchers that indicates children are more likely to sleep through a standard alarm than a human voice. But introducing language into a smoke alarm system was a surprisingly complex step involving engineering, psychology, and thespian prowess. Nest scripted its brief messages carefully and auditioned its voice actors as if it were casting the next Hunger Games movie. User experience designer David Sloo asked for a female voice because it projects better though the device’s small speaker. For the American English version (eventually Nest will use a voice native to each market), he chose a 37-year-old mother of a toddler. Somehow, Sloo felt, a maternal characteristic shone through.

Nest is fascinating. Tony Fadell is clearly trying to bring Apple-level design and innovation to product categories we’ve all written off as too mundane to think about.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013