IT & Systems Management

'Mother' doll uses the Internet of Things to nag you

The tagline for Mother is "Mother knows everything," and that's a comfort as well as a turn-off. The newly announced Mother device from looks like a cross between EVE from WALL-E and a Matroyoshka doll, but it's a programmable device with a touch-sensitive "face" that you program to nag you. No, really.

The Mother base connects to your network with Ethernet and collects data from little sensors called Cookies, then sends you alerts based on the conditions you set up. The alerts can be push notifications, texts, emails, phone calls, or just light and sound coming from the base.

A Cookie is a small tag that senses motion and changes in temperature, and sends data back to the Mother base using a 915MHz radio. You can connect up to 24 Cookies to one Mother, and reprogram them anytime. They need to be in range of your Mother to send data, but if a Cookie ventures into the world it can remember 10 days worth of data and send that to the Mother once it comes back in range.

The actual purpose of Mother is a little vague, but that's by design--it's supposed to accommodate a wide range of use cases.

You could attach a Cookie to your water bottle and ask Mother to nag you if it doesn't detect the kinds of motions that mean you're drinking enough water. You could stick a Cookie in your kid's backpack and place the Mother by your door, and get a push notification when your child arrives home from school. You could attach a Cookie to the lid of your cookie jar to keep yourself honest about how many times a day you help yourself to another Oreo. (Or just grab all the Oreos the first time, duh.)

A dozen slick-looking applications help with suggested uses, like knowing who's home at any given time and seeing if the fridge door was left open.

The starter bundle is $222 for a Mother and four Cookies, and additional Cookies are $99 for a pack of four. Preorders are happening now, with shipments scheduled for February.

We're a little dubious if it'll live up to its vague promises of life-changing, nurturing care from a device that's really just about nagging you--or rather, helping you nag yourself. But it could be an interesting way to dabble with adding limited Internet of Things capabilities to the stuff you already own.


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