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Mother review: This smart-home hub makes promises the Internet of Things can't deliver

Michelle Mastin | Dec. 17, 2014
Mother and the Motion Cookies was one of the most talked-about products at last January's CES. No one could quite figure out what it was or what it was supposed to do. Now that she's taken up residence in my home, I'm still not entirely sure what Mother is good for. But I kinda like her and her cookies.

Mother and the Motion Cookies was one of the most talked-about products at last January's CES. No one could quite figure out what it was or what it was supposed to do. Now that she's taken up residence in my home, I'm still not entirely sure what Mother is good for. But I kinda like her and her cookies.

In very broad strokes, Mother is a data-collecting hub that you hard-wire to your router, and the Motion Cookies are wireless sensors that you attach to household objects that you want to track. Despite the name, the sensors can also track temperature and proximity to Mother, not just motion, and they send messages about what's going on inside your home back to the hub.

Mother is a jack of all trades and comes with apps for everything from fitness tracking, to home monitoring, to sleep analysis. Messages from the apps are displayed in a portal dubbed the Senseboard, which you can access from a computer, tablet, or smartphone. As you've probably guessed, Mother is a master of none of these tasks.

Mother is incredibly cute. She looks like a white Russian nesting doll with a light-up face. But since she needs to be hard-wired to your router, she'll probably get hidden away where your router lives (unless your home has hardwired ethernet ports in its walls).

In our house, the router is in the garage, but we have a wired port in a home office, so that's where I set her up. Four color-coded Motion Cookies are included with the kit, and you can buy more in packs of four for $159. One Mother can track up to 24  of these sensors. The cookies are small and unobtrusive (they measure 1.9 by 0.8 inches), and they come with things like putty and Velcro loops for attaching them to the objects you want to track.

Motion Cookies communicate with Mother on a proprietary 915MHz frequency band, and each one can store up to 10 days worth of data before they need to be back in range of Mother to upload. The sensors' range is comparable to a home Wi-Fi network.

The Cookies and the Mother itself are identified by charming names. The Mother reviewed here was named Jenice Faith, and the Motion Cookies had names like "Early Jardin" and "Any Bread." 

Mother is easy enough to set up. Plug in her power and Ethernet cords, open the web portal, and much of the rest takes care of itself. You must touch Mother's face to complete the setup, and each Motion Cookie needs to be activated in close proximity to Mother, so stay close for these steps. Some apps also require the paired Motion Cookie to be physically close to Mother during setup. 

 

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