“Are you still clinging on to your Smartphone? Embrace the future with Viking. Smartphones are outdated.”
We have all heard of Google Glass and many geeks are eagerly waiting for the announcement when these glasses will be available to all.
You may not have heard about a software company called Brilliant Service which is based in Osaka, Japan, and has developed a new operating system dubbed Viking OS, designed for use in glasses. The company’s goal is to completely replace the cellphone.
The company calls smartphones outdated and their app development is in Objective-C, which in their eyes is “elegant, fun, and easy to program.” (PDF pamphlet)
However cool all this may sound, the most interesting fact about Viking OS (this is the current project name and will likely change in the future), and this is the reason why I post this: Viking OS is an head-mounted display (HMD) operating system for wearable computing, including smart glasses and is based on FreeBSD.
The company describes Viking OS as follows:
“Viking OS allows users to operate applications with ease by simple gestures and voice control. Users will experience stress-free AR (Augmented Reality) such as natural searching and navigating to a destination that they could not do with Smartphones. This hands-free interface will utilize information provision for active users who enjoy the outdoors and sports. The programming language for app development is Objective-C. This will invite developers world wide to participate in creating new content and user experiences for Viking OS.”
There has been some confusion, and so far Brilliant Service have not confirmed or denied whether or not Viking OS is based on BSD and in particular on FreeBSD.
I have contacted Brilliant Service and Johannes Lundberg has confirmed that Viking OS is indeed based on FreeBSD and the reasons why:
A big factor is the BSD license. We want to keep some parts proprietary and also sell our operating system bundled with hardware. However, the business model is not yet fully decided. If we are going for OEM or if we also will control the hardware.
Among the different BSD derivatives FreeBSD seemed liked the logical choice. Other companies seem to wanna put Android in their smart glasses / HMD and even try to run Android smartphone apps on a HMD. We don’t want to depend on previous technology that will provide a lesser user experience but rather re-think from scratch, create a new system with new user experiences made possible by smart glasses with gesture control.
Interestingly, Viking OS is not based on FreeBSD 9, but on FreeBSD Current:
From version 10.0 there seem to be some big changes that make it the natural choice when thinking in the long perspective. Like for example the default compiler shifting to clang/llvm. Also, we are interested in alternatives to X11 like Wayland which I think will be included in future version of FreeBSD.We are selling a prototype of our Viking OS + hardware now but the final product is scheduled for 2016 so by then FreeBSD 10 should be stable enough I think.
Embedded below is a demo of the FreeBSD-based Viking OS in action on a head-mounted display