Incident 46: Nest Smoke Alarm Erroneously Stops Alarming

Description: In testing, Google Nest engineers demonstrated that the Nest Wave feature of their Nest Protect: Smoke + CO Alarm could inadvertently silence genuine alarms.


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Alleged: Nest Labs developed and deployed an AI system, which harmed Fire Victims.

Incident Stats

Incident ID
Report Count
Incident Date
Sean McGregor

CSETv0 Taxonomy Classifications

Taxonomy Details

Full Description

On May 21, 2014, Google Nest, producer of smart home products, issued a recall for its Nest Protect: Smoke + CO Alarm due to concerns that the Nest Wave feature could inadvertently silence alarms. The Nest Wave feature is designed to allow users to silence spurious alarms, for example while cooking, by waving a hand near the unit that triggered the alarm. In lab conditions, however, Nest engineers demonstrated that the Wave feature could be activated erroneously, raising the potential that the device could silence genuine alarms.

Short Description

In testing, Google Nest engineers demonstrated that the Nest Wave feature of their Nest Protect: Smoke + CO Alarm could inadvertently silence genuine alarms.



AI System Description

The Nest Wave gesture detection function of the Nest Protect: Smoke + CO Alarm. The feature is designed to allow the user to silence spurious alarms with a gesture near the device.

System Developer

Nest Labs

Sector of Deployment

Activities of households as employers

Relevant AI functions


AI Techniques


AI Applications

gesture detection


United States

Named Entities

Nest Labs, Google Nest, Google

Technology Purveyor

Google Nest

Beginning Date


Ending Date


Near Miss

Near miss



Lives Lost


Data Inputs

Motion sensor data

GMF Taxonomy Classifications

Taxonomy Details

Known AI Goal

Substance Detection, Smart Devices

Known AI Technology

Gesture Recognition

Potential AI Technology


Known AI Technical Failure

Unsafe Exposure or Access

Potential AI Technical Failure

Hardware Failure, Limited User Access, Underfitting, Generalization Failure

CSETv1 Taxonomy Classifications

Taxonomy Details

Harm Distribution Basis


Sector of Deployment


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In a statement today from Nest CEO and cofoun…

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Nest Labs’ sudden decision Thursday to halt sales of its smart smoke and carbon monoxide detectors surprised users and drew mixed reactions. But wha…

Nest is Recalling Its Smoke Detector (But Don't Send Yours Back) · 2014

Nest Labs–a startup recently bought by Google which brings high style and web smarts to mundane household devices–is recalling Nest Protect, a smoke and carbon monoxide detector, over concerns that its alarm might fail to go off in emergenc…

When The IOT Fails: Nest Recalls Over 400K Smoke Detectors · 2014

Nest, the smart sensors and controls company recently acquired by Google for $3.2 billion in cash, just officially announced a massive recall of 440,000 Nest Protect smoke and CO detectors due to the possibility of complete failure to sound…

Nest Labs Recalls to Repair Nest Protect Smoke CO Alarms · 2016


The repair is an automatic electronic update that disables the Nest Wave feature and is delivered automatically to devices connected wirelessly to the Internet and linked to a Nest account. Consumers should take one of the following…


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