So let's get something straight upfront - we love our wearable devices. At any one time you may find us caressing our Pebble, stroking a Shine, or even fumbling with the odd Fitbit. They're nice little pieces of tech that provide very specific - and often very limited - external motion and activity tracking. The problem is, they're all pretty 'dumb' without their Smartphone overseer.
And after last week's release of the iPhone 5S, they just got a lot dumber.
After all, the primary USP of most fitness and motion tracking devices is to record activity without draining your Phone's battery (the device you actually carry with you everywhere anyway). But Apple's new M7 co-processor changes all that - allowing for a fully active motion recording and analysis system wholly independent of the Phone's main processor - meaning while the Phone is asleep.
The obvious applications of the new sensor point to an all-in-one Phone and fitness tracker, but that's perhaps a bit short-sighted. As a recent article from the MIT Technology Review points out, in the near future the M7 processor can not only track physical activity states but also "emotional ones".
At a simple level, the user could program a gesture that might serve as a password—a unique shake or swivel could, in effect, become the screen-unlocking password, an instruction to call home, or a distress signal.
What's more, a recent MIT project "to promote well-being by detecting certain modes of behaviour, such as walking, taking part in a conversation, or sleeping" had to be halted as the Phones used would frequently go to sleep or simply drain the battery. All that changes with the 5S and it's new co-processor.
While the addition of the M7 has already kicked off a number of fitness-related Apps - most notably Apps by Nike and Argus - we're much more excited about where this sensor can lead us in terms of persistent gestures, non-touch input and interactions, and even emotional movement tracking.
It's all a bit theoretical at the moment, but it has our "prototyping brains" working overtime, and we're already setting aside some projects we had planned for wearable device prototypes in favour of exploring Apps and concepts we can execute with the 5S.
Exciting times indeed.