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What Apple’s M7 Motion-Sensing Chip Could Do


The motion-processing M7 chip in the new iPhone 5S will serve as an aid to fitness-tracking apps, says Apple. But over the long term, the chip could help advance gesture-recognition apps and sophisticated ways for your smartphone to anticipate your needs, or even your mental state, researchers say.

While smartphones have long contained motion-sensors—accelerometers to detect speed, gyroscopes to detect orientation, and compasses—these are kept off when the phone is “asleep” to avoid tying up the main processor and draining the battery. The M7, operating separately from the main processor, aggregates all of the data from those sensors and allows them to stay active and be analyzed all the time, even when the phone itself is asleep.

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