'Big Mother' devices keep people in line - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

'Big Mother' devices keep people in line

New "motherly" devices on the market can make someone feel like their parent is always with them. (Source: NPN) New "motherly" devices on the market can make someone feel like their parent is always with them. (Source: NPN)

(NPN) - A new crop of gadgets is designed to correct people when they stray off course - just like mom.

Even though he's all grown up, college student Zach Pope still appreciates an occasional reminder. One thing he knows he needs a little help with is slowing down when he eats.

Since mom is not around for guidance, he likes using the Hapifork. It has a sensor built in to let him know to slow down.

"It tracks how quickly you're eating and can give you a gentle warning if maybe you're gulping your food down," Pope said.

The Hapifork is one of many devices designed to nudge people in the right direction.

"There's this entire new world of sensor-based technology, that can sort of mother you by using tiny sensors to track your movements, things that you do in your everyday life," said Lindsey Turrentine of CNET.

One device is even called "Mother." It tracks sensors that users can put anywhere.

Other gadgets remind people to sit up straight, wear sunscreen based on weather forecasts or track how long and how often someone is brushing their teeth.

Dr. Judith Stevens is a professor of human development. She said the devices can be motivational but isn't sure they are effective.

"If your phone tells you to stand up straight and you're not really motivated to make an improvement, you're not going to do it," she said.

Another issue is privacy: people should check a company's privacy policy before putting any information online.

But Pope said he was not concerned about the safety of his information. He sees a change in himself and is OK with the occasional nagging from his mom and the device.

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