Mother: the creepiest gadget at CES

Until someone announces a robotic doll that smiles when you're afraid, that is

Are you exercising enough? Are you eating properly? Are you taking your medication? Mother knows. Mother is watching you. Mother has so many eyes, and none of them ever blink.

What is Mother? It (she?) is a hub that detects the movements of sensors, the equally cutely-named Cookies. You attach Cookies to anything you want to monitor - your front door, your shoes, your bed, your children's toothbrushes, your cat, your.. well, your mother - and Mother provides you with information on how often they've moved. It could be the most fully-featured, adaptable life-tracker we've ever seen. So why does it give us the creeps? 

Big mother

Well, total control is unsettling. Yes, it is good to have more information on parts of your life - tracking exercise, diet and productivity can unquestionably improve your quality of life. Does having sensors attached to your children's toothbrushes improve your quality of life? Or does it turn your bathroom into a surveillance state in which your children have no choice but to comply with your dental dictats?

Mother knows best

Of course, you don't have to use Mother to obsessively monitor your family. You can attach Cookies to anything. Stick one on your water bottle and the app can log how many glasses of water you're having per day, stick one on your humidor and it'll keep track of your cigar intake. With a little more tinkering, a Cookie stuck to your coffee machine can remind you when you're about to run out of coffee. Put one under your pillow and it can log how well you're sleeping. It's all very useful, and the only drawback is that you have a shiny little droid that sits in your home, smiling and smiling and smiling because it knows everything you do.

More after the break...

I'll be mother

Of course, Mother's creep-factor is hugely amplified by the name. For one thing, a machine pretending to be your mum is the stuff of nightmares, and for another, it appears to be named after that other environment-controlling Mother - the ship's computer in Ridley Scott's Alien. Like that Mother, all this Mother can do is give you information, in the hope it may alter your behaviour. It'll pop up a cheery message saying You Have Admitted One Xenomorph This Month! Let's Try Admitting 0 Xenomorphs Next Month! but for all it knows, you might be an android that admires the alien's terrifying clarity of purpose.

Mothers of invention

While it may give you the willies, Mother is part of a class of devices that is here to stay. The age of sensors is very much upon us, and soon every home will be equipped with a hub that reads them and reports the data for you - the Ninja Sphere is another, less unsettling, example. 

CES 2014 - the biggest news so far, live from Las Vegas

2014 CES Hot Stuff Awards - the 10 best launches from the show

You have to login or register to comment.