Your cell phone knows a lot about you. It knows your location, who you've communicated with, your daily calendar, your latest social media interactions and the GPS coordinates of every photo you take. With all the alerts and tracking your cell phone does, it can feel a bit like an overbearing mother. Well, at this year's Consumer Electronic Expo, a company called Sense is exhibiting a product actually called Mother, designed to stick its virtual nose into just about everything you do.
Each Mother unit talks wirelessly to a set of smaller tracking devices, dubbed cookies, that can sense motion and temperature. You can put cookies on things and people – on your body to gather data about how much you walk, on your coffee machine to track many espressos you drink, on your front door to track whenever it is opened, on your toothbrush to see how often and how long you brush … and so forth.
You can attach cookies to anything - say, a box of pills you are supposed to be taking, or a water bottle to track your hydration. You can set Mother to nag you to do (or not do) things in the form of alerts sent to your phone, emails, even phone calls. On the Media has talked about the idea of "the quantified self" before, and this is just another step in that direction, allowing you to further monitor all of your activities and translate them into data that you can ostensibly use for self improvement.
I've read articles calling it "creepy", but I like it, especially the branding. The name is refreshingly candid, and whether Sense meant to or not, just by naming the product Mother, provided a commentary on this kind of technology. The oft-repeated tagline on the Sense website is "Mother knows everything".The mother unit even has a kind of detached smiling face with light up eyes, reminding you that it (she?) is, in fact, always watching you. I just think they should have taken it one step further and called it...I don't know, Big Brother? Smother?