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Halo Smart Labs shuts down, no longer makes or supports Halo smart alarms

Halo Smart Labs has gone out of business in July 2018, CNET reported. The company no longer manufactures or supports the Halo+ smart alarm.

If you already own a Halo alarm, there is no reason to think the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors won’t continue to work. The smart features that made the Halo special, however, will not function if you connect the device to the internet via Wi-Fi. According to CNET, the Halo alarm’s smart features will continue to work if you connect via the Samsung SmartThings Hub or the Iris by Lowe’s Hub. Otherwise, you’re on your own with a not-too-smart smoke detector.

Beneath every technological wonder promising to make you safer lies an unspoken caveat: When disaster really strikes, none of this stuff works. Wi-Fi goes out. Power goes out. Cell phone towers go down or get overloaded. Your “smart” devices can get pretty damn worthless in a hurry.

That’s why Halo+, a smart smoke detector with the emergency chops to operate when the grid went down, was one of the smarter smart home devices to appear at the 2016 Kitchen and Bath Industry Show in Las Vegas. It included redundant features that would let it keep ticking long after your smartphone and laptop died.

Halo had a successful Indiegogo run in 2015 and it appeared at CES 2016. At KBIS 2016, we had a chance to take a closer look and discover a few new details.

Yes, fundamentally it was just a smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector, but it took a much more sophisticated approach to those functions than the squawking hellion most people probably owned at the time. Using both photoelectric and ionization smoke alarms, plus heat, humidity, and carbon monoxide detectors, the Halo could tell a life-threatening blaze from a botched bagel toasting job. Was the photo-electric sensor tripping, but there was no carbon monoxide or heat? Somebody probably just wandered away from the toaster. It would send a smartphone alert so you could fish the charred remains out of the toaster with chopsticks or a fork, but not wake up your entire apartment complex.

Nick Mokey/Digital Trends
Nick Mokey/Digital Trends

For detecting smoke and carbon monoxide, the Halo had a 10-year battery. For its more advanced features, it needed to be wired into power, but a rechargeable battery kicked in when the grid went down and offered a solid week of continued functionality.

If you happened to live in a tornado-prone area, the Halo+ had an even more unique feature: It forecasted local tornadoes. The distinct, rapid pressure drop before a tornado let the Halo know when a nearby twister was imminent, so you could get down to your shelter regardless of whether or not local forecasters had pinpointed it in your neighborhood.

For other severe weather events, the Halo+ was set up to receive alerts from the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration, better known as NOAA. With more than 1,000 transmitters nationwide, these are the signals that still come through when landlines, cell phones and power are all knocked out.

Like the Nest Protect, the Halo also worked as a smart home hub, so it could send alerts to you when you were not home. At launch, the Halo worked with the ZigBee, Iris, and iControl protocols, with plans to add Apple HomeKit and Control4 as well. And yes, they intended to support Nest, too.

Like the Nest Protect, the Halo also used a built-in speaker to pronounce alarms, and had color-coded lights as well: Pulsing blue meant weather alert, pulsing red meant smoke or carbon monoxide. You could even use the LEDs as a nightlight if you wanted.

Updated on August 1: Halo Smart Labs goes out of business.

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