Between a small army of multitasking robots, Zach Morris phones, bendable TVs, driverless cars, and approximately 3 million bedazzled smartphone cases, home connectivity proved to have a major presence at the 2014 International CES in Las Vegas.
And because every well-connected home should be presided over by a stern, all-knowing, and slightly overbearing matriarch, French tech startup Sen.se wowed — and slightly creeped out — CES attendees with the debut of a matryoshka doll-shaped gadget that serves exactly that role (minus the passive aggressiveness, home cooking, and hugs). And her name is Mother.
Described by Sen.Se as the world’s “the first programmable mother” who “knows everything without needing to ask” and “cares about your safety, health, and well-being,” this pint-sized mumsy-substitute with a price tag of $222 presides over a family of four connected Motion Cookies that have the uncanny ability of detecting and understanding “the movements of objects and people.” Lloyd Alter over at sister site TreeHugger describes Mother's very-much-inedible Cookies as being "smaller and more intelligent than a house arrest ankle bracelet."
Simply affix a Cookie to any household object — the refrigerator, a toothbrush, a potted plant — and it will report back to Mother who, via a series of corresponding apps, will dispense gentle recommendations on how to improve on something, give you the heads up if something is wrong or off, and congratulate you on a job well done.
A Motion Cookie placed on, let’s say a carafe of water, will alert Mother to your hydration habits while a Motion Cookie affixed to a bottle of prescription pills tells Mother whether or not you’re taking your meds on a regular basis. Affix one to the treadmill in the garage that doubles as a clothes hanger and it will wirelessly communicate to Mother if you’re getting enough exercise. Similarly, a Motion Cookie placed on the “adults only” drawer of a bedside table will also alert Mother to your exercise levels (nothing is TMI for this omniscient lady of the house). Slap a Cookie on your car keys and you’ll never spend 30 minutes in the morning searching for them because, after all, Mother knows exactly where you left them. The same goes for the TV remote.
Do you own a beagle that doubles as an escape artist? Never loose track of your pooch — or your teenage daughter —when a Motion Cookie is tied to his or her collar.
Along with the grinning, glowing-eyed Mother and her merry band of sensor-based snitches, a range of helpful corresponding apps — apps designed to “help you feel better, gain peace of mind, know yourself and your environment better, make life easier"— process the barrage of information tied in with your day-to-day life. While the apps may scream intrusive to some, they're ultimately designed to be super-helpful. Some of the more useful ones include Presence (the thermostat is lowered to help you conserve energy when Mother and her Motion Cookies detect that no one is at home), Intrusion (it alerts you to suspicious activity when you’re away), and Fridge (it alerts you if the refrigerator door is left open and helps you to keep track of your snacking habits).
And then there's the Secrets App which keeps a watchful eye over certain household items — stash boxes, the emergency credit card, the contents of a liquor cabinet, etc. — and tells you if they’re moved even just a smidge from a specific location.
The time has come for devices to learn to live with us instead of us learning to live with them. Sensors that understand things without needing to be told. Batteries that last for more than a year. Simple, buttonless devices. Mother and her sensors have been designed to blend into your life and adapt to your behavior without requiring any effort, training or care from you.
Stop discarding devices when the service they provide is no longer of any interest to you. We have designed sensors that can readapt within a few minutes to meet your current concerns. Uses lasting a lifetime or a few hours, for critical or mundane concerns — you can entrust Mother and her Cookies with the task without a second thought, whether or not your need deserves a dedicated device.
As in real life, if you’ve had enough of Mother but don’t want to banish her completely her completely, you can simply push pause on the smartphone app or remove a Motion Cookie from its target location. Or, if you really want to take a vacation from your well-meaning Mother, you can always just disconnect her from your router.
Mother — described by her maker Rafi Haladjian to the Wall Street Journal as “not a nurse, a gardener or a cop – she is everything at the same time” — was named as an honoree in the Tech for a Better World category at the 2014 CES Innovations Design and Engineering Awards. Brace yourself because she starts shipping this spring.
Stay tuned as I share more highlights from CES 2014 including the latest in home connectivity from the always-forward thinking Bosch, who was kind enough to host my visit this year.
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