In 2021, the Linux Foundation Drove Innovation Across the Technology Spectrum and in Key Industry Verticals

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Vertical industries are under constant pressure to innovate, facing the challenges of supply chains, diverse customer requirements, regulations, and a lack of talent to do everything leadership may envision in any complex business. 

These industries understand that their ownership of intellectual property for parts of their software stack is limiting business opportunities and expensive to develop and maintain. To accelerate adoption, openly working together on common infrastructure components presents more opportunities for business growth.

Our members in the automotive, motion picture, fintech, telecommunications, energy, and public health verticals have transformed their business processes and assets into software-defined assets. They are now building strategic frameworks that give them a competitive edge that only open source can provide. In 2021, verticals and new members continued innovating with newly formed communities in the agriculture industry and AAA-class 3D engines for entertainment and simulation.

While all of these vertical industries have unique open source projects and communities, they also share a common thread: All realize that open collaboration presents opportunities to reduce costs, cut time to market, increase quality, and open new areas of competition. The ability to achieve these results on a collective basis pushes innovation forward across respective industries.

Gaming and Simulation: Open3D Foundation and Open3D Engine

The Linux Foundation welcomed the Open 3D Foundation into its community of families in July of 2021. The first project in the foundation was the Open 3D Engine known as O3DE. Amazon Web Services donated it under an Apache 2.0 and MIT licensing model. The mission of the Open 3D Engine is to make an open source, fully-featured, high-fidelity, real-time 3D engine for building games and simulations available to every industry.

Since its inception, it has raised $2.7 million in commitments from 26 partners in over two years. It has received signed commitments from a range of companies such as Adobe, Intel, AWS, Niantic, Huawei, SideFX, HERE, and others.

The foundation is focused on industries that utilize 3D technologies. This includes video games, automotive, simulation, robotics, energy, real estate, training, film, special effects, machine learning, aerospace, and many other verticals.

Since its inception, it has grown to over 3600 stars, 1100 forks of the repository, 1,500 Discord users, and 500+ active members are online. It has increased to over 130 authors of code, 7000 file changes, 2,000,000 changes to lines of code, and a vibrant & active self-sustaining support community averaging 500 messages & minutes per day.

Motion Pictures and Visual Effects: The Academy Software Foundation

The Academy Software Foundation (ASWF) has continued to make an impact on the open source technologies that empower the motion picture and visual effects industries. To date, ASWF boasts 32 members and hosts 14 projects and working groups. 

Key achievements in 2021 include:

MaterialX being contributed as a project by Lucasfilm. MaterialX originated at Lucasfilm in 2012. It has grown into the central format for material description at Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) since the production of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

The launch of the ASWF Assets Repository that gives open communities access to production-grade digital assets for testing, demonstration, and education purposes.

The launch of OpenColorIO v2.0, which is the output of three years in development and boasts numerous feature and performance improvements. In addition, a growing number of vendors are adopting their products and services, which is cementing OpenColorIO as an industry standard.

ASWF has seen the collaboration and sustainability of each of the projects and working groups it hosts increase, with each project seeing increases in organizational diversity and contributions in 2021 compared to the year before joining the ASWF.

ASWF looks forward to 2022 as it focuses on addressing new technology spaces such as virtual production.

Automotive Grade Linux (AGL)

Over the last decade, the Linux Foundation worked with industry leaders like Toyota and others to launch Automotive Grade Linux (AGL). AGL was established to build a common open source software platform to eliminate the fragmentation plaguing the automotive industry. AGL is the only organization with a mission to address all in-vehicle software, including infotainment, instrument cluster, telematics, heads-up display, advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), and autonomous driving.

The AGL community is reducing that fragmentation by combining the best of open source to create the AGL Unified Code Base (UCB), a single, shared, open source software platform for the entire industry. The UCB includes an operating system, middleware, and application framework and can serve as the de facto industry standard for infotainment, telematics, and instrument cluster applications. Sharing an open source platform allows for code reuse and a more efficient development process as developers and suppliers can build their solution once and deploy that same solution for multiple automakers. 

Supported by eleven major automotive manufacturers, including the top three producers by worldwide volume (Volkswagen, Toyota, Daimler), AGL is deployed  in production vehicles today:

Toyota’s AGL-based infotainment system is now in Toyota and Lexus vehicles globally.The 2020/2021 Subaru Outback and Subaru Legacy use open source software from the AGL UCB for the Subaru Starlink infotainment platform.Mercedes-Benz Vans is using AGL as a foundation for a new onboard operating system for its commercial vehicles.

Amazon AWS joined AGL as a Platinum member in January 2021 and is leading AGL initiatives around IoT and Connected Car. 

In early 2021, AGL announced a new Expert Group for Container and Service Mesh, led by Amazon AWS. The Container and Mesh Expert Group are developing an in-vehicle container solution for AGL and creating a service mesh and orchestration framework that can be deployed as part of AGL.

The IVI Production Readiness Expert Group, led by Toyota, has made significant progress in 2021. This EG is focused on bringing AGL closer to a production-ready state. By early 2022, major code contributions are expected from Toyota on Flutter for embedded IVI, a new cutting edge UI and App development framework for infotainment systems. This will allow manufacturers to cut the development time and cost of deploying innovative new applications in the vehicle. 

The Virtualization EG, led by Panasonic, has been busy working on cutting-edge VirtIO technology. This allows consolidation of vehicle cockpit systems such as IVI, Instrument Cluster, and Heads-Up-Display to run on a single processor. It also enables innovative use cases such as using Android for infotainment and AGL for Instrument Cluster on a single virtualized CPU. The consolidated cockpit is a vision of the future, and it’s being developed today at AGL. 

AGL also had two milestone platform releases this year, Unified Code Base (UCB) 11.0 Kooky Koi in February and 12.0 Lucky Lamprey in July. These releases included several updates to graphics, audio, speech recognition, application and security frameworks, web apps, and Chromium. Both releases are based on the Yocto 3.1 Long-Term-Support board support packages.

New Industry Vertical‭: ‬Agriculture

In May 2021, the Linux Foundation announced the launch of the AgStack Foundation, the open source digital infrastructure project for the world’s agriculture ecosystem. Thirty-three percent of all food produced is wasted, while nine percent of the people in the world are hungry or malnourished. These societal drivers are compounded with legacy technology systems that are too slow and inefficient and can’t work across the growing and more complex agricultural supply chain. AgStack Foundation will improve global agriculture efficiency by creating, maintaining, and enhancing free, reusable, open, and specialized digital infrastructure for data and applications. AgStack will use collaboration and open source software to build the 21st-century digital infrastructure that will be a catalyst for innovation on new applications, efficiencies, and scale.

AgStack consists of an open repository to create and publish models, free and easy access to public data, interoperable frameworks for cross-project use, and topic-specific extensions and toolboxes. It will leverage existing technologies such as agriculture standards (AgGateway, UN-FAO, CAFA, USDA, and NASA-AR); public data (Landsat, Sentinel, NOAA and Soilgrids; models (UC-ANR IPM), and open source projects like Hyperledger, Kubernetes, Open Horizon, Postgres, Django and more.

Founding members and contributors include leaders from both the technology and agriculture industries and across sectors and geographies. Members and partners include Agralogics, Call for Code, Centricity Global, Digital Green, Farm Foundation, farmOS, HPE, IBM, Mixing Bowl & Better Food Ventures, NIAB, OpenTeam, Our Sci, Produce Marketing Association, Purdue University / OATS & Agricultural Informatics Lab, the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC-ANR) and University of California Santa Barbara SmartFarm Project.

New Industry Vertical‭: ‬AI Voice Technologies

In June, the Linux Foundation announced the Open Voice Network, an open source association dedicated to advancing open standards that support the adoption of AI-enabled voice assistance systems. Founding members include Target, Schwarz Gruppe, Wegmans Food Markets, Microsoft, Veritone, and Deutsche Telekom.

Organizations are beginning to develop, design, and manage their own voice assistant systems independent of today’s general-purpose voice platforms. This transition is being driven by the desire to manage the entirety of the user experience — from the sound of the voice, the sonic branding, and the content — to integrating voice assistance into multiple business processes and brand environments from the call center, to the branch office and the store. Perhaps most importantly, organizations know they must protect the consumer and the proprietary data that flows through voice. The Open Voice Network will support this evolution by delivering standards and usage guidelines for voice assistant systems that are trustworthy, inclusive, and open.

Voice is expected to be a primary digital interface going forward and will result in a hybrid ecosystem of general-purpose platforms and independent voice assistants that demand interoperability between conversational agents of different platforms and voice assistants. Open Voice Network is dedicated to supporting this transformation with industry guidance on the voice-specific protection of user privacy and data security.

Much as open standards in the earliest days of the Internet brought a uniform way to exchange information and connect with any site anywhere, the Open Voice Network will bring the same standardized ease of development and use to voice assistant systems and conversational agents, leading to huge growth and value for businesses and consumers alike. Voice assistance depends upon technologies like Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR), Natural Language Processing (NLP), Advanced Dialog Management (ADM), and Machine Learning (ML).

The Open Voice Network will initially be focused on the following areas:

Standards development: research and recommendations toward the global standards that will enable user choice, inclusivity, and trust.Industry value and awareness: identification and sharing of conversational AI best practices that are both horizontal and specific to vertical industries, serving as the source of insight and value for voice assistance.Advocacy: working with and through existing industry associations on relevant regulatory and legislative issues, including those of data privacy.

These efforts are made possible by the dozens of enterprises that support  Open3D Foundation, ASWF, AGL, AgStack, and Open Voice Network 

To learn how your organization can get involved with Open 3D Foundationclick here

To learn how your organization can get involved with ASWFclick here

To learn how your organization can get involved with AGLclick here

To learn how your organization can get involved with AgStackclick here

To learn how your organization can get involved with Open Voice Networkclick here

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