One of the pitches Smart Labs makes on its website promoting Halo WX, purportedly the smartest smoke alarm ever created, is that "safety shouldn't discriminate." The company's referring to Halo's ability to connect with most smart-home systems including Iris, iControl, SmartThings, and Apple's reportedly delayed HomeKit, but it could have just as easily been in response to Mother Nature's indiscriminate tendencies when it comes to natural disasters ranging from hurricanes, floods and tornadoes.
Smart Labs says its Halo WX is the first alarm to quickly detect flash fires, smoldering fires, and carbon monoxide in a single device, but that's not all it does. Halo WX is pre-configured to receive geographically localized tornado warnings issued by the National Weather Service
Why this matters: Halo and Halo WX aren't the first smart smoke alarms on the market, but Smart Labs does have ambitions of them being the best. In addition to the advanced functionality of Halo WX, both also supposedly do a better job than competitors like Nest at reducing false alarms through "intelligent monitoring of five different sensors." Nest has been criticized for sounding a false alarms, and if you prescribe to the 'boy who cried wolf' philosophy, that could make you less likely to react appropriately to a real emergency.
The Halo WX's weather-alert feature was born out of a close call involving the father of Smart Labs co-founder Ben Stagg, who had a close encounter with the tornado that struck Joplin, MO and claimed 160 lives back in 2011. While working on a farm not far from Joplin, Stagg senior happened to hear a weather bulletin on a radio in his barn as he walked by. He had barely enough time to take cover, though according to an accounting of his event in the Charlotte Business Journal , winds had become so strong that he couldn't close the cellar doors before the storm passed. He survived the incident, though many others weren't so lucky.
Combined with a house fire that later struck one of Stagg's family members in 2014, he was sufficiently motivated to develop a better, smarter smoke alarm. The end result is Halo WX, a connected device that can pull weather alerts from the Internet and deliver them to your mobile device. You're in control of which alerts you want to receive, so if you're not concerned about hurricanes or tsunamis tearing through your location, you don't have to be bothered with related notifications.
Halo WX also boasts a 10-year battery backup that ensures those annoying chirps warning of low battery life will be few and far between. The device itself is hardwired directly into your home's power source, though if you lose power, it can still receive emergency messaging for up to a week. These messages might include helpful information such as evacuation routes or safe drinking water locations, to name just two examples.
Smart Labs is currently accepting pre-orders for Halo WX through a crowdfunding effort on Indiegogo. If you can do without the weather alerts, Early Bird pricing for Halo is set $60. Halo WX offers the same flash fire, smoldering fire, and CO detection as Halo, but adds natural disaster alerts for an Early Bird price of $80.