Google and Facebook Announce Use of Zephyr for Upcoming Products

By Elijah Labby Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Recently, Google and Facebook announced their selection of Zephyr Real-Time Operating System for their upcoming products.

As an RTOS, the operating system is meant to handle numerous tasks as they come in, meaning faster processing times and more efficient usage. The code itself is open source, meaning that users of Zephyr’s technology can alter and distribute the code however they see fit.

Executives at Google expressed excitement about the prospect of this partnership with Zephyr.

"Google believes in building secure products for all of our users, and we are excited to join forces with Zephyr to develop a secure real time operating system," said Puneet Kumar, who serves as the Director of Engineering at Chrome OS. "The Zephyr Project has built a strong community of experts, and we look forward to working with all of the participating organizations to improve the state of the RTOS our products depend on."

Facebook and Google are both involved in the Linux Foundation, which oversees the Zephyr Project. Olof Johansson, Engineering Director at Facebook, was also hopeful about the partnership.

"The project's focus on establishing neutral governance, encouraging a diverse development community, and the attention to security will help create a thriving and sustainable open source ecosystem around Zephyr. We are excited to be part of that," he said.

Zephyr’s RTOS is already being used in a variety of applications, but perhaps the most timely is its use in COVID-19 monitoring. The technology is already in use in Intellium’s Safety Pods, which vibrate when construction workers are in close proximity to one another and remind them to wear masks or distance themselves. Phytec’s Distance Tracker offerings are much the same, and also utilize the technology.

When it comes to RTOS, Linux Foundation Senior Director of Strategic Programs Kate Stewart says that dependability is what has drawn Google and Facebook to Zephyr now and previously.

"Zephyr's focus on product level quality and integrating key technologies have made it an ideal platform for rapid time to market for IoT based solutions. With the COVID-19 situation challenging us all, it's very encouraging to see companies choose to use Zephyr as part of their solutions," she said.

For its part, Facebook’s partnership with Zephyr signals substantial continued growth for the company. Founded in 2004, the company has grown from a small, part-time project for students at Harvard University to a usership of over 2.7 billion and a valuation of over 750 billion as of this writing.

The fourth-most-visited website in the United States, Facebook has continued to add value to its offerings through a range of products and services. In addition to Facebook’s main website, Messenger, Facebook’s communications app, offers video chat, texting, calling, and file transfer. Portal by Facebook offers Messenger-powered video chat with a smart camera that pans and zooms to keep track of who is speaking. Facebook has also attempted to break into emerging markets such as Thailand, the Philippines, and Iraq through the release of the Discover program, which “aims to provide free data to users in areas where broadband access is not widespread.”

“During the coronavirus public health crisis, we believe it is particularly important to explore ways to help people stay connected and to increase access to health information and other resources on the internet,” said Yoav Zeevi, a product manager at Facebook.

Google, the number one most-visited website in the world, has made similar strides. By rolling out products and services such as free word processing, e-mail, and cell phones, Google’s parent company Alphabet was able to reach a valuation of over $1 trillion earlier this year.

Since its creation in 1998, Google has become an integral part of the online ecosystem, and Joel Stapleton, who is the Zephyr Project’s Governing Board Chair, expressed his anticipation for the project.

“Open source communities that practice transparency, encourage active participation, and recognize contributors will thrive, evolve, and deliver the strongest outcomes for the project,” he said. “The level of support new members bring deeply benefits our community and we look forward to seeing Google and Facebook’s contributions to the Zephyr ecosystem.”

About the Author

Headshot of Elijah Labby

Elijah Labby is a graduate of the National Journalism Center. He has previously written for Broadband Breakfast, a technology and internet policy websit

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