CES 2018: First Alert Has Its Own Wi-Fi Mesh Router That Hijacks Every Connected Device With Smoke Alarm Warnings

By Andrew Liszewski on at

An American company, First Alert, is worried that kids are so addicted to their devices that they’ll completely tune out and ignore even the shrill alarm of a smoke detector. As a result, the company is branching out with a whole home mesh wi-fi system that guarantees everyone in the house will know when there’s an emergency.

First Alert is a brand more commonly associated in the US with smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, and other safety products for the home. So introducing a wi-fi mesh router is a move that feels completely out of left field. But by leveraging the company’s existing Onelink line of smart home-connected smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, First Alert’s wi-fi solution has one feature that similar products from brands like Linksys and D-Link do not.

As far as mesh wi-fi solutions go, the Onelink Connect has everything we now expect from a system that promises to blanket your entire home with a fast, reliable, wireless connection. It comes with three tri-band nodes to place around your house that use a dedicated wireless channel to talk to each other so that devices are always connected to the optimal access point, without slowing down the whole network.

First Alert is targeting its mesh wi-fi system to families with kids, with features that easily allow parents to restrict where users can go, what content they can access, and what times of day they can go online. But that’s all mostly standard functionality for consumer-level wireless routers these days. The feature that makes First Alert’s new mesh wi-fi solution stand out is that it can not only receive alerts from the company’s smart detectors when smoke or carbon monoxide is detected, it can also then hijack every wi-fi connected device in the home with a warning to evacuate the premises.

First Alert didn’t go into specific details about how all-encompassing these alerts would be. For example, is it able to interrupt when someone is watching Netflix on their tablet? Many ISPs already do a similar thing with web browser pop-up warnings when a user is getting close to their monthly bandwidth limit, so there is precedent for this functionality.

It's not something we're likely to see in the UK any time soon, but it's a pretty interesting idea. It’s doubtful that a feature like this is going to steer all consumers away from wi-fi mesh solutions sold by companies who predominantly focus on wireless hardware, but First Alert’s Onelink Connect will almost surely appeal to safety-obsessed parents in a house full of young kids, or adults looking to upgrade their ageing parent’s wi-fi. Paranoia can be a strong selling tool. [First Alert]