Listen to Your Mother, Even if She Resembles an Electronic Russian Nesting Doll

According to the general philosophy of the Internet of Things, the future is going to be awesome. Our technology will not just respond to our needs but actually anticipate them. Before you can even think “Gosh, it's chilly in here,” your smart thermostat eases off the air conditioning. Lights will turn on or off as you walk through your home, conserving energy. All those little things that demand your attention will become automated.

But to get there, we have to invest in a lot of technology. That means buying new automation systems and gadgets with various sensors in them. Enter Mother, a different approach to home automation and data tracking made by Instead of buying devices that may or may not talk to each other, you purchase a hub called “Mother” that directs the sensors called “Cookies.”

As we mentioned, Mother resembles an electronic Russian nesting doll, and the cookies are oval, white plastic devices with one end covered in a bright color such as blue or yellow. The cookies can detect motion and temperature. You attach the cookies to objects in your home to turn them into smart objects. Or smart-ish objects.

Families with kids might want to slap a cookie onto the children's toothbrushes to make sure the tykes are caring for their teeth (they aren't). A caregiver of an elderly relative might want to attach the sensors to medication containers to keep track of doses.

Put a cookie in your pocket and it acts like a pedometer, counting your daily steps. It can even serve as a motion sensor for doors, sending you push notifications when someone enters or leaves your house. And you're encouraged to take a cookie to bed — slipping one under a sheet will allow it to monitor your sleep activity. So while the sensors seem limited, you can actually do a lot with them.

The Mother hub collects data as long as cookies are within 65 feet (just under 20 meters). You can use a Web-based app to access the data and determine how and for what purpose each sensor will be used.

Mother may not be a long-term solution to the Internet of Things, but it could help us pass the time while we wait for our dumb technology to get smarter.

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