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Sense Mother review: "Mother" is here to take charge of your smart home

You can also change Mother's LED eye color during the initial setup and in settings afterwards. There are eight options, including blue, pink, light blue, yellow, green, purple, orange and red. I steered clear of red and opted for sedate purple, lest this inanimate Mother-hub comes alive and starts taking over my condo, the neighborhood, and eventually, the whole world.

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Megan Wollerton/CNET

Once everything is configured to your satisfaction on the web app, you can use the same login info to access the mobile version, which is available for Android, iOS, and Windows users.

See what Mother can do

Select "Add an app" from the Web app's Senseboard homepage to start tracking things; the Web app is where you'll want to go to make any major adjustments to Mother's setup. The mobile app is well designed, but it provides a limited snapshot, whereas the Web app offers the full breadth of customization options available to you.

And your options are pretty diverse -- I used each of the four Cookies to test Mother's many features and some sensors even performed more than one function simultaneously.

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Screenshots by Megan Wollerton/CNET

I attached two of the sensors to my doors (front and patio) to receive push notifications whenever they opened. I also used them to track the ambient temperate. I put another sensor in my pocket and it worked just like a pedometer, tracking my steps and telling me how many calories I was burning. I also set it up to act as a proximity sensor, so that Mother would disable the door-related motion alerts when it sensed that I was home. I shoved another sensor under my fitted sheet and it sent sleep data to the app and acted as my alarm in the morning, one that went ahead and woke me up when it noticed that I was stirring shortly before my official alarm time, similar to the Hello Sense sleep system .

All of the most recent data collected will be displayed on the Senseboard and you can temporarily disable, delete and adjust any Cookie and any of its functions any time you want. When you click on one of the functions, you will get a more detailed look, so you can see a sleep graph and itemized sleep stats: I got 79 percent deep sleep, 7 percent light sleep, 6 percent intermediate sleep and 8 percent awake sleep on the night of September 25.

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Screenshots by Megan Wollerton/CNET

Most importantly, everything worked as expected. I received push notifications whenever the doors opened, got sleep cycle-related data and was able to monitor my steps and calories burned all from one central location. It's like a fitness band, a home-automation kit and a security system all in one, and the results are very intriguing. There's really nothing quite like Mother on the market today.

Still it does have some limitations. Cookies can only communicate with the hub up to roughly 65 feet. So, any time you take a one outside of that range, you won't receive the data until you return. I also found the fitness tracker setup slightly annoying. While you can switch between Metric and Imperial units, there was no place to enter height in feet and inches -- it only had a section for feet, so I had to enter that I was 5.6 feet tall instead of 5 feet and 7 inches. Close enough.

The verdict

Sense's $300 Mother home automation and data-tracking kit is definitely unconventional, but that doesn't mean that it wouldn't make a good addition to your smart home. If you find that you're looking for a little organization in your life and like the idea of a Mother/hub/red-eyed overlord to keep you in check, Sense has a solid solution. Still, Mother is on the pricy side and you're out of luck if you want to track your steps on-the-go. Then again, it's highly adaptable and might just make some sense out of your hectic routine -- just like the overbearing mother you never had.

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