Autonomous and Beautiful Home Devices

Of all the smart home upgrades I’ve made, replacing all my regular smoke detectors with Nest Protects (Google’s smoke detector) has been the one that I regret the most.

I don’t really need a smart smoke detector. It doesn’t need to talk, connect to wifi, and cost hundreds of dollars. I don’t need it integrated with my Google account which is impossible to share, so I need to be personally involved to replace one.

But other smoke detectors are just so unsightly, and the Nest is light years ahead of the competition from a design standpoint.

There’s such an opportunity for something that looks as good as the Nest, but doesn’t require two-factor authentication to replace. I didn’t want to call it dumb but beautiful, so let’s say “autonomous and beautiful” appliances and home devices. I still want it to be smart, but if you’re going to have the risk profile of a device that connects to the internet, it needs to be worth it, like Brilliant, Sonos, smart TVs, or connected cameras.

I’m becoming more wary of any hardware that requires an app, just because of the natural decay of non-SaaS and non-open source software. Van Moof bikes are beautiful, but will they still connect well when iOS 24 is out and Bluetooth has been removed from iPhones for security reasons?

5 thoughts on “Autonomous and Beautiful Home Devices

  1. Hi Matt.

    First and foremost, I totally agree with the whole Nest versus Kidde et al caper. In preparing my Toronto home for sale, the property had three different types of smoke alarms – none of which I installed. I figured the house was protected enough without me adding to the menagerie, which went from laughable to ridiculous when they all mysteriously ran out of battery power over a 5 day period just as house viewings were scheduled. Not the reason for messaging you, but thought it was topical.

    I heard your interview on the Foundr podcast today as I was painting my little brother’s bedroom ceiling. At the risk of offending Nathan, not the most engaging interviewing style, but he often draws out one or two insights in each discussion. I did snort at the seriously odd question about how you “make” people better. Your approach in helping people be the best they can be by supporting them through reading, mentorship, conferences etc was refreshing – hence this note. I really appreciated hearing your thoughts and I’ll peek about the net to look at some more of your writing / interviews etc.

    All the best for 2021 and beyond.


    p.s. Nathan, if you ever see this post, no offense intended. I’m also Australian and I know we are the most modular vocalist on the planet.

    1. Here’s the link to the foundr podcast:

      I also liked the one with Matt & Jack on a lot.
      BTW I found Serendipity (the movie! because that was my immediate thought when I read the headline over there) 2 weeks after listening to the podcast. Had it on a DVD from 11/2005 together with About a Boy and there’s a scene where Hugh Grant is picing up a guitar and performing Killing Me Softly. That was somehow the perfect manifested moving picture scene after hearing that interview, for someone who has also been in the punk scene and had a blue hair phase in the twenties.

      Also, for the smoke detectors you might want to have a look at The PX-1 is simple, beautiful, sustainable and does it’s work well. I can also speak from experience that if you ever witness a serious fire alarm you need to have the phone number of the local fire department at hand first, call them and leave the building. Everything else, like an app, is just not important and the last thing you think about in such a moment. Take care and stay safe.

      Happy Birthday, Matt & A Happy and Healthy New Year to you and yours!

  2. I have a Google Home in every room of my house. They can listen for windows breaking, or smoke detectors going off and report it to you. This is an excellent way that smart devices can work with “dumb” devices.

    I agree that traditional smoke detectors are unsightly, and Bosch and others make recessed smoke detectors that hide nicely in plain sight.

    I think the lightbulb will be the next “phone” in that our phones are no longer just phones. Making phone calls is probably low on the list of how we spend time on our phones. Lightbulbs are in every room and already have smart connections, and some even have speakers built-in. Recessed lighting using smart bulbs with microphones, speakers, smoke detectors, and maybe even cameras would be a great way to hide our smart tech in plain sight.

  3. I had a recent similar realisation Matt with regards to Sonos devices. We’ve consciously replaced all of our old CD players and the like with Sonos One units across our home, which has been tremendous in terms of their convenience and speaker wire free nature, BUT, voice-assistance support aside, they are really suboptimal for one important use case – children. The Sonos speakers have been amazing in our children’s bedroom’s for playing soothing bedtime music, buying us crucial extra sleep time as new parents. However, said children are now 7 and 4, and exploring the world – without phones/app access, they cannot enjoy that tangible experience of loading random CD’s/Tapes/Vinyl and discovering music themselves.