The Zephyr Project is a scalable real-time operating system (RTOS) supporting multiple hardware architectures; it’s optimized for resource-constrained devices and built specifically with security in mind. To learn more, we talked with Thea Aldrich, Zephyr Project Evangelist and Developer Advocate, about the goals and growth of the project.
The first question that comes to mind is what’s the need for Zephyr when the Linux kernel already exists? Aldrich explained that Zephyr is great in those cases where Linux is too big. “It’s a really small footprint, real-time operating system built with security and safety in mind for highly constrained environments,” she said.
Adoption of Zephyr
Zephyr is witnessing adoption in many industries, especially in industrial IoT, on devices that are extremely conservative in terms of power. It gives product developers the flexibility to pick and choose features and functionality based on the size of the footprint that they’re working with.
Companies are also using Zephyr in places that no one envisioned. One of the use cases Aldrich is excited about includes a smart glove by ProGlove. “It’s a glove with barcode scanner built-in. It cuts down time for factory workers as they could scan inventory quickly and more efficient. The scanner is embedded into their hands, so the inventory gets scanned during their natural movement.”
Zephyr is also being used in shoes that have sensors to send haptic feedback. These are useful in manufacturing and heavy industries where it could be challenging to hear supervisors or get information.
Every opportunity brings its own set of challenges. One of the biggest challenges facing Zephyr is the number of boards that are coming out. “We are also overwhelmed with the number of contributions coming from the community, so the challenge is to ensure a balance between code quality and meeting the needs of the community and accept their contributions,” said Aldrich.
More boards mean more code-level support for these boards and each vendor contributes their own code to address their own use-case. The project is working hard to ensure the platform is flexible enough to accommodate new boards and use-cases without compromising quality.
The Zephyr Project is a fantastic entry point into open source for new contributors or users who are looking for a way to get involved in the creation of the technologies they use everyday. If you are new to open source or are interested in getting involved in the Zephyr Community, please reach out through any of our community channels, Freenode IRC #zephyrproject, on Slack at https://tinyurl.com/y8eusuhs, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can hear more about Zephyr in the complete interview below: