It strikes to the core of everything that’s wrong with western civilization that a smoke alarm, perhaps the most baldly practical device ever invented, something whose sole purpose is to stop you from choking to death on sooty black clouds while you lie in your bed at night, can become a coveted piece of consumer electronics.
And yet, and yet, and yet. The £109 Nest Protect Second Generation is a fabulous piece of consumer electronics. It’s something you will gaze lovingly up as you walk down the corridor from your bedroom to the loo, a nightly reminder that spending money on stuff you don’t need makes you feel warm and gooey inside.
It will, of course, save you from inhaling smoke and/or carbon monoxide in your sleep. But it will also address you in a human voice to tell you what’s going on (things like: “This is only a test...”), and it doubles up as a night-light, casting a little halo of illumination as you pass down the corridor.
Like everything in 2017, it comes with a companion app (I even have a lunchbox with its own completely useless app), through which you can instruct it to shut up if you just burned the toast, consigning to history the ritual of standing underneath your smoke alarm waving a tea towel. The app also gives you information on how much juice is left in the batteries (6xAA), when the Protect last performed its self-test, and whether it’s connected to your wi-fi network. It also displays its history so you can work out who in your house is most prone to setting fire to the dinner.
Sure, you could nip down Wilko and pick one up for under a tenth of the price, but if you’re the kind of person who requires every inch of their home to be furnished as if it were a Swedish furniture showroom – and frankly, buddy, you’re in the wrong place it that’s not you – then this is something you should have in your life.