The Roost Smart Battery retrofits your existing smoke alarm for $35

There are many paths into the smart home, and many of those are paved with good intentions: They try to make houses safer and more convenient and secure. The problem is that this often involves tossing out existing devices for pricier ones. Roost takes a different approach with its smart battery.

After a successful Kickstarter and pre-sale through Amazon, Roost is now shipping and available through additional retailers such as Home Depot ($35 each, $65 for a pair). Looking much like any other 9-volt — though with a smooth white outside — the battery nonetheless performs many of the functions as Nest Protect. It will send a notification to your smartphone if your smoke alarm sounds, even if you’re not home, and will let you know before the battery starts to die, so you don’t have to deal with the insistent beeping. Also, if your steamy shower tends to set off your smoke alarm, you can “snooze” the alarm instead of frantically waving a towel in front of the device. (Welcome to my mornings.)

The beauty of the smart battery is that it’s just as easy to snap it into your smoke detector as is any other battery. I had a chance to test it out this week, and had it installed in under 10 minutes (including the time I spent nearly toppling off my folding chair).

To set it up, I downloaded the app and punched in my phone number. I received an access code to input, then set up my profile with an email address. (Honestly, I would’ve preferred just giving my email, though.) To add the battery, I assigned it a location, connected it to my Wi-Fi network, then set it next to my phone. After a warning from the app asking if I was ready, my phone sounded a tone as grating as those tests of the emergency broadcast network. Then the battery was connected, and I could put it in the detector.

The app then had me test the battery by holding down the detector’s button. It started beeping, and I got an alert on my phone that the hallway alarm was ringing. When I opened the app, an alarming red bar showed me which detector was sounding, and I had four options: “call emergency, view monitors (friends, neighbors, countrymen who might be able to check if your house is ablaze), snooze alarm, and view details.” Since I didn’t want to actually get the fire department over, I chose snooze alarm. The red bar turned green and a pop-up told me the alarm was no longer sounding.

There isn’t a ton to do in the app. Presumably, once you have your contacts set up, you should really only have to use the app when you burnt your cookies, the battery’s five-year lifespan is over, or, heaven forbid, there’s an actual fire.

“The biggest issue with smoke alarms is that we take out the batteries,” Roel Peeters, CEO and co-founder of Roost, told Digital Trends back in June. Another nice feature of the Roost is that it snaps apart. When the battery part of the battery runs out, you can keep the smarts for another five years and replace the battery pack for $15. Who knows where smart tech will be in a decade, but for now, the Roost is a pretty simple solution for a potentially deadly problem.

Health & Fitness

In search of the fountain of youth, beauty companies turn to tech

Beauty tech is a fairly new concept, but at CES 2019, companies such as Olay, L’Oreal, and Neutrogena were fully embracing it with all kinds of gadgets that promise to give you glowing skin.
Home Theater

Yamaha’s MusicCast Vinyl 500 turntable spreads analog joy throughout your home

It can be tough to listen to your favorite analog tunes anywhere besides the room where your turntable is located. With its MusicCast Vinyl 500 turntable, Yamaha allows you to stream your tunes throughout your home.
Home Theater

Cutting the cord? Let us help you find the best service for live TV streaming

There's a long list of live TV streaming services available to help you cut the cord and replace your traditional TV subscription. Each is different in important ways, and this guide will help you find the best one for you.
Product Review

Ring Video Doorbell 2 is the simplest entry into a smarter doorway

The Ring Video Doorbell 2 may lack the style and sophistication of premium door-dingers, but few can match its simplicity and versatility. The device, available in both wired and wireless configurations, is easy to set up and adds instant…

We tried all the latest and greatest smartphones to find the best of 2019

Smartphones are perhaps the most important and personal piece of tech on the planet. That’s why it’s important to pick the best phone for your individual needs. Here are the best smartphones you can buy.
Smart Home

Airbnb says sorry to guest for how it dealt with undisclosed security camera

An Airbnb guest recently found a surveillance camera in his rental apartment that hadn't been properly disclosed in the listing. The firm admits its initial response to the guest's complaint was poor, but has since made amends.
Smart Home

Busted: Facebook Portal gets 5-star reviews from company employees

It's fair to say that Facebook's Portal smart display received a tepid response at launch, so it was something of a surprise to see lots of glowing reviews of the device on Amazon. Turns out some were written by Facebook workers.
Smart Home

Thinking of buying an Instant Pot? Here's what you need to know

The Instant Pot is a powerful kitchen appliance that does everything from pressure cook to to slow cook to steam. Heck, you can even make yogurt in it. Here's all you need to know about the magic device.
Smart Home

Want a smarter home? Ditch the keys with these great smart locks

A good smart lock should offer a combination of security and convenience. Fortunately, these devices keep your home protected, your family safe, and your belongings secure from possible intruders.
Smart Home

The best sous vide machines cook your food perfectly, every single time

Want to make four-star meals from the comforts of your own kitchen? Here are the best sous vide machines available right now, whether you prefer simple immersion circulators or something more complex.
Smart Home

Idaho mother says her child’s light-up sippy cup exploded

After a mother filled a Nuby insulated light-up cup with milk, the cup allegedly exploded. The incident caused burns to the mother's hand and face and a stinging sensation in her lungs that required a trip to the hospital.
Smart Home

Project Alias is a ‘smart parasite’ that stops smart speakers from listening

Two designers chose to do something about nosy smart speakers. The result is Project Alias, a "smart parasite" that whispers nonsense to Google Home and Alexa until it hears a specific wake word.
Smart Home

DS3 Clean water-free swatches could be the future of cleaning products

DS3 Clean swatches were on display at CES 2019. The small swatches come in several types, including shampoo and toilet cleaner. They're great for travel, but their real impact is in how such supplies will be shipped and stored.
Smart Home

Amazon patents a technology to help Alexa fight fake voice attacks

Amazon filed a patent this month for a new technology that looks like it would help its digital assistant Alexa fight fake voice attacks that could potentially fool Alexa's biometric security protocols.