Smoke detectors are boring. They’re not attractive, not fun to deal with, and probably came with the house or apartment when you moved in. They make themselves known when you’re cooking and burn the roast, or at 2:00 AM when their batteries need to be replaced. But aside from that, they are little more than decorations on the wall or ceiling — no more noticeable or significant than a picture frame or light switch.

In reality, smoke detectors are much more than just wall decoration. They are vital safety devices that are required by virtually every municipality in the US and other countries.

But the lowly smoke detector hasn't really changed in decades. Sure, they can now detect carbon monoxide in addition to general smoke, and there are options for battery-powered or plug-in models. But for the most part, they’re still round discs that mount to your ceiling and beep very loudly when they detect something is not right, even if it's just a burnt piece of toast. For most people, they are a nuisance more than anything else. Or worse, they are so annoying that they’ve been yanked off the wall and had their batteries torn out, making them little more than paperweights. That’s a real problem: the National Fire Protection Association says that almost two-thirds of the deaths from home fires are directly connected to non-functioning smoke alarms.

Nest, the company that reimagined the home thermostat, is looking to change that. The Nest Protect is its latest product, a $129, internet-connected smoke and carbon monoxide detector. Like the Nest Thermostat, the Protect has a stylish design and user-friendly features such as voice guidance. It promises to fix those annoyances that make people deactivate their existing smoke alarms while adding other conveniences, such as alerts on your phone. But it's more than three times the cost of a standard smoke and carbon monoxide detector, and since most homes already have smoke detectors, the need to buy a new one is virtually zero for many people. So, is it worth it? Google certainly thinks you’ll want one: it announced just this past Monday that it would be purchasing Nest for a staggering $3.2 billion in cash.

As the old adage goes "if it ain’t broke, don't fix it." Do we need to fix the smoke detector? I installed a Nest Protect in my home to find out.