With home automation startup Nest recently accepting a $3.2 billion buyout from Google, the company has been all over the news. That’s why I was especially excited to stumble on a great teardown of the Nest Protect from hobbyist electronics website Sparkfun. I love Sparkfun, and I’ve used their products for all kinds of things. They write extremely clear tutorials, and illustrate with pretty pictures, so I expected nothing less from their teardown.
For those who are not acquainted, a teardown basically involves buying some costly and much-hyped gadget, popping off cover (with blatant disregard for both warranties and “Risk of Death By Electric Shock” stickers), and figuring out what’s actually inside. More often than not, the parts inside the fanciest gadgets are off the shelf gizmos you could buy and use yourself, if you’re willing to spend hours wading through Digikey. Teardowns are a nice reminder that consumer electronics aren’t dark magic; they’re made of stuff that a hobbyist can understand (and eventually use themselves, with enough practice).
The Nest Protect, for all its overdone glory, really does fit into this mold. The overall message from Sparkfun’s teardown is that the Nest Protect is 10% electronics innovation, and 90% really, really good industrial design. The more innovative part of the device (custom smoke sensor aside) is the case itself, which elegantly portrays HAL-like aesthetics on the outside, while cleverly packing all the Nest Protect’s smarts into a tiny, functional package.