Apple's new M7 motion coprocessor to empower new breed of fitness apps

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
Apple's inclusion of a motion coprocessor in the iPhone 5s will likely spawn a whole new generation of intuitive, user-friendly fitness apps, and may indicate where the company's future devices and services are headed.



In unveiling the iPhone 5s, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller pointed out the addition of a "motion coprocessor," dubbed the M7 chip, which works with the new A7 processor to handle data from the smartphone's assorted sensors. Even when the device is in sleep mode, the M7 gathers information from the gyroscope, accelerometer, compass, and other sensors to continually measure a user's activity, all with power consumption levels much lower than the A7.

"It takes advantage of all these great sensors and it continually measures them without having to wake up the A7 chip," Schiller said, noting that, even in sleep mode, the device could tell if a user is "stationary, running, walking, or driving."

The iPhone 5s will also be able to change the behavior of apps depending on the user's motion. When driving, for instance, a navigation app may be called on to provide driving directions. When the user gets out of their car and starts walking, the navigation app could switch the type of direction information appropriately, all without waking the device.

When the iPhone 5s is brought out of sleep, the M7 can feed the gathered information to a compatible fitness-oriented app. This means that apps like those supplied by Nike will be able to constantly monitor a user's activity levels with little effect on battery life.

Nike, in fact, has built the first app to take advantage of the M7 coprocessor. Schiller noted the capabilities of Nike+ Move, an app that uses the M7 just as described above. Schiller left open the possibility that future apps will also access the iPhone 5s' motion data.

Aside from detailing its capabilities, Schiller did not reveal how Apple plans to use the chip going forward. While it may may have some functionality overlap with existing health monitors like Nike's FuelBand, or the heart rate-monitoring Withings Pulse, use scenarios will likely keep the third party accessory market relevant for some time.

Schiller M7


Some observers have noted the possibility that Apple could include the M7 into the design of its suspected smart watch device, referred to by many as the "iWatch." Apple is said to have been aggressively hiring for the so-called smart watch, and rumors hold that the device will be packed with biometric sensors, much like Nike's FuelBand. A built-in motion coprocessor in such a device could have the effect of greatly differentiating Apple's rumored offering from what many think will be a crowded smart watch market.

The iPhone 5s follows quickly in the footsteps of another flagship device with a focus on motion sensing, the Moto X from Google-owned Motorola.

In revealing that device, however, Motorola did not stress the fitness applications of the built-in, low-power motion sensors. The company did, though, showcase such features as the phone automatically displaying information on its screen when it detects itself being removed from a pocket. Motorola's device can also automatically switch into camera mode when it detects it is being moved into a photo-taking position.

No such features were announced for the iPhone 5s, but Apple can conceivably add similar functionality via updates to iOS.

Apple's iPhone 5s will go on sale alongside the iPhone 5c on Sept. 20. Unlike previous launches of Apple's flagship device, as well as this year's iPhone 5c, the 5s will not have a preorder period, meaning it will only become available on the 20th at retail locations and online.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 41
    Since the 5S does no have a pre-order, wonder what the delivery date would be if I purchase it online on Sep 20?
  • Reply 2 of 41
    Originally Posted by appletouches View Post

    Since the 5S does no have a pre-order, wonder what the delivery date would be if I purchase it online on Sep 20?

     

    Depends on when you purchase it that day.

  • Reply 3 of 41
    dunksdunks Posts: 1,236member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post



    The iPhone 5s will also be able to change the behaviour of apps depending on the user's motion. When driving, for instance, a navigation app may be called on to provide driving directions. When the user gets out of their car and starts walking, the navigation app could switch the type of direction information appropriately...

     

    This was the part where my jaw hit the floor.

  • Reply 4 of 41
    dunks wrote: »
    This was the part where my jaw hit the floor.

    It makes Apples purchase of all of those small mapping Apps make more sense. Most of this functionality will probably hit iOS 8 and be prominately featured on the iPhone 6 with backwards compatibility with the 5S
  • Reply 5 of 41
    nagrommenagromme Posts: 2,834member
    This could make those "sleep cycle alarm" apps efficient enough to not necessarily need a power connection all night long.

    It could also help GPS apps (including weather alerts and geofences), making the even lower-power than Location Services already is, by waking them up to check for an updated location only if movement has been sensed. After all, you can't change coordinates without also jostling your phone.

    I'm not sure what's left to put in a watch!
  • Reply 6 of 41
    Funny, the financial analysts and media are criticizing Apple for "not innovating". And yet Apple seems to be adding innovations like the M7 that directly improve what we can do with an iPhone.

    The only thing they'll be happy with is if Apple goes for lowest common denominator cost cutting changes. Of course if Apple does that then the resulting price war will reduce profit margins and the same financial analysts will punish Apple later on (just like the netbook market).

    Best to ignore these folks.
  • Reply 7 of 41
    With this technology real-time traffic data could be compiled using tens of millions of iPhones in use rather than thousands of a particular app whose drivers are providing that information.
  • Reply 8 of 41
    With this technology real-time driving conditions could be monitored by tens of millions of iPhones rather than thousands of drivers using a particular app.
  • Reply 9 of 41

    This is one of the best technology use that Motorola and Apple have come up with.

    My Moto X (Which also has separate motion sensor), detects automatic drive mode and other modes as well.

    If it detects drive mode, it automatically starts music (If selected in setting) and says calling number etc.

     

    Addition to that Active display shows notification on lock screen and they come up only when display is not stowed. If display is stowed(Pocket detection etc.), it turns off Active notification.

    Best part is the messages,alerts,texts,voicemail,calendar etc comes on active display with off screen and you can preview by sliding up or down.

    Also I read somewhere that they only turn on selected pixels to display those notifications and Time to save battery. I am getting 24 hours of battery with very heavy web usage (Wifi/LTE), very few calls and 1 hour of music, which is way batter then nexus 4.

     

    I guess this will become common in next iteration among all android copy cats as well.

  • Reply 10 of 41
    davendaven Posts: 506member

    You will get your's some time after mine arrives! <img class=" src="http://forums-files.appleinsider.com/images/smilies//lol.gif" />

  • Reply 11 of 41
    This chip sounds like GPS apps that only use speaker could use way less battery.
  • Reply 12 of 41
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by shahhet2 View Post

     

    This is one of the best technology use that Motorola and Apple have come up with.

    My Moto X (Which also has separate motion sensor), detects automatic drive mode and other modes as well.

    If it detects drive mode, it automatically starts music (If selected in setting) and says calling number etc.

     

    Addition to that Active display shows notification on lock screen and they come up only when display is not stowed. If display is stowed(Pocket detection etc.), it turns off Active notification.

    Best part is the messages,alerts,texts,voicemail,calendar etc comes on active display with off screen and you can preview by sliding up or down.

    Also I read somewhere that they only turn on selected pixels to display those notifications and Time to save battery. I am getting 24 hours of battery with very heavy web usage (Wifi/LTE), very few calls and 1 hour of music, which is way batter then nexus 4.

     

    I guess this will become common in next iteration among all android copy cats as well.


     

    Really?  There is no mention of a motion co-processor on the Moto X web site

     

    http://www.motorola.com/us/FLEXR1-1/Moto-X/FLEXR1.html

     

    Perhaps you are confusing the motion co-processor with the built-in sensors that smart phones have.

  • Reply 13 of 41

    Am I the only one who thought "smart watch" when Phil was talking about the use of fitness apps on the M7 chip?

  • Reply 14 of 41
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DaveN View Post

     

     

    Really?  There is no mention of a motion co-processor on the Moto X web site

     

    http://www.motorola.com/us/FLEXR1-1/Moto-X/FLEXR1.html

     

    Perhaps you are confusing the motion co-processor with the built-in sensors that smart phones have.


    I believe it has Atmel "Sensor Hub" MCU

    You don't have to read too far but this article only from AI.

     

    "The iPhone 5s follows quickly in the footsteps of another flagship device with a focus on motion sensing, the Moto X from Google-owned Motorola.



    In revealing that device, however, Motorola did not stress the fitness applications of the built-in, low-power motion sensors. The company did, though, showcase such features as the phone automatically displaying information on its screen when it detects itself being removed from a pocket. Motorola's device can also automatically switch into camera mode when it detects it is being moved into a photo-taking position.



    No such features were announced for the iPhone 5s, but Apple can conceivably add similar functionality via updates to iOS."

     

    Regardless, I was talking about the usefulness of feature, where all these processing is not done by main cpu and that's how it saves battery life even while getting all sensor data detections realtime.

     

  • Reply 15 of 41
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by shahhet2 View Post

     

    I believe it has Atmel "Sensor Hub" MCU

    You don't have to read too far but this article only from AI.

     

    "The iPhone 5s follows quickly in the footsteps of another flagship device with a focus on motion sensing, the Moto X from Google-owned Motorola.



    In revealing that device, however, Motorola did not stress the fitness applications of the built-in, low-power motion sensors. The company did, though, showcase such features as the phone automatically displaying information on its screen when it detects itself being removed from a pocket. Motorola's device can also automatically switch into camera mode when it detects it is being moved into a photo-taking position.



    No such features were announced for the iPhone 5s, but Apple can conceivably add similar functionality via updates to iOS."

     

    Regardless, I was talking about the usefulness of feature, where all these processing is not done by main cpu and that's how it saves battery life even while getting all sensor data detections realtime.

     


     

    Ah, my bad.  It is late here and I already forgot that part when I reached your comment.  I checked Google's Moto X page and didn't see mention of it. I guess I'd better call it a night.

  • Reply 16 of 41
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by appletouches View Post



    Since the 5S does no have a pre-order, wonder what the delivery date would be if I purchase it online on Sep 20?

    Also I wonder what happened to those highly intelligent people who camped outside the Apple store 4 days prior to Apple's Sept 10 event?

  • Reply 17 of 41
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by DaveN View Post

     

     

    Really?  There is no mention of a motion co-processor on the Moto X web site

     

    http://www.motorola.com/us/FLEXR1-1/Moto-X/FLEXR1.html

     

    Perhaps you are confusing the motion co-processor with the built-in sensors that smart phones have.


     

    No, he is talking about the Motorola X8 MCS Homemade SoC that they launched in the MotoX. It is actually 2 extra processors not one. 1 L-NLP Processor that only handles Voice recognition, mic and other Audio and 1 CCP processor That handles all the censors like the M7. They both Motorola proprietary chips outside the Qualcomm MSM8960 CPU in his Moto X

     

    you can read some here

     

    http://www.phonearena.com/news/Motorola-X8-homemade-SoC-recap-modified-Snapdragon-forms-the-first-true-mobile-computing-system_id45632#2-

     

    Nice to see Motorola back in processors after the Freescale fiasco even if just mobile computing systems.

  • Reply 18 of 41
    nagromme wrote: »
    This could make those "sleep cycle alarm" apps efficient enough to not necessarily need a power connection all night long.

    It could also help GPS apps (including weather alerts and geofences), making the even lower-power than Location Services already is, by waking them up to check for an updated location only if movement has been sensed. After all, you can't change coordinates without also jostling your phone.

    I'm not sure what's left to put in a watch!

    But that's the beauty of this! The iWatch could be a much simpler device... since the phone would have most of the high-end hardware and sensors.

    The downside is that it would only work with iPhones that have the M7 chip... only the iPhone 5S for now.

    I'm sure we'll be seeing many smartwatches from other manufacturers who try to shove everything including the kitchen sink into the watch... making it extra big and bulky.

    I can't imagine Apple doing that. If the iWatch is truly an accessory to the iPhone... it would make more sense to put most of the hardware in the phone.

    Or at least that's how I see it :)
  • Reply 19 of 41
    Surely the M7 is a bigger win for AppleTV connected "Kinect style" games?
  • Reply 20 of 41
    While there are many potential future benefits for the user with the new motion co-processor, the main architecture reason to adding the motion co-processor is to add battery life. The Gyro, Mag, and Accel sensor sampling, the math, such as Kalman filtering, and batching of the data can be performed on the M7 motion co-processor. The A7 need only get data on occasionally, and thus can be sleeping in a low power mode while data accumulates on the M7. It seems like this is the future direction for smartphones. I found a reference for a Sensor Fusion Co-processor on the PNI Sensor Corporation website: http://www.pnicorp.com/products/sentral It seems to be similar to what Apple has announced, and they describe needing only 1/100th the power relative to a Cortex M0 processor to do the same 'math'.
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