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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.

Log into your Senseboard from a computer and you can manage Mother, any of the Motion Cookies you've enabled, and any devices on which you've installed the Pocket Mother app. You can also add new apps from here. When you use the smartphone or tablet version of the Pocket Mother app, you're limited to seeing data coming in from each app; you can't manage other devices or add other apps to the Senseboard.

When you add a new app, you'll be guided through a short set of steps to pick settings to choose which Motion Cookie you wish to monitor, and choose which types of notifications you want to receive. Mother will notify you via text, email, the pocket Mother app on your phone or tablet, or via Mother directly (although that last one won't be useful if Mother is in a closet chained to your router).


Senseboard looks like the live tiles in Windows 8, whether you're using it via a browser or the Pocket Mother on a phone or tablet, but the tiles don't present a whole lot of useful information. The "door" tile tells me the last time there was motion at the door, but the "coffee" tile just says "What does your coffee machine dream of?" Seriously?

When I click on the "sleep" tile (which just tells me it's good to sleep on a cookie), I'm presented with some neat graphs that tell me how well I slept (not very, I have a 4-month-old baby). Similarly, clicking through to the coffee app informs me of how much coffee I've been drinking (a lot, I have a 4-month-old baby). Other apps let me know how many steps I've taken, when the door has moved, and what the temperature is at each Cookie.

I didn't find the sleep-tracking feature to be all that useful, since I'm up often with my baby and the Cookie in my bed doesn't know whether a lack of motion means that I'm in REM sleep or that I'm out  of the bed tending to the baby. On one day, the app told me I'd had my best night's sleep when in fact I'd been up every hour because my baby was having trouble sleeping due to vaccinations earlier in that day.

If you find that Mother's sleep tracking works for you, the Pocket Mother app on your smartphone can use that information to gently wake you with a well-timed alarm. 

The Coffee app works best with single-serve pod-based machines. It even lets you choose between a Nespresso, Keurig, or Senseo brand, showing you the best way to attach the Cookie to your machine. In my case, I used a bit of the provided putty to attach a cookie to the side.


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