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NI celebrates 20th anniversary of LabVIEW with new edition

Posted: 17 Aug 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:National Instruments? LabVIEW? LabVIEW 8.20? platform solution? embedded system?

National Instruments' Chandar Nair

Nair: There is a need for a common tool and the world is looking for a common platform to tie everything together.

"Do for engineers what the spreadsheet did for financial analysts." This was what National Instruments (NI) vowed to do when it launched 20 years ago the first Laboratory Virtual Instrumentation Engineering Workbench, more commonly known today as LabVIEW platform.

Today, NI's mission is to "do for embedded what the PC did for desktop." The company recently unveiled LabVIEW 8.20, the 20th anniversary edition of its LabVIEW graphical system design platform. This new edition extends the popular graphical programming platform with communications design and simulation test tools for telecom design and test engineers.

In the last two decades, LabVIEW has continually evolved, extending its reach from computers to professional development, multiplatform embedded systems and DSPs, PDAs and FPGAs, and the distributed intelligence of LabVIEW 8.

The platform has been cited for its ease of use and simple interactive methods. LabVIEW applications have been integrated into various sectors and services, including research laboratories, benchtop tests, ATE systems, vibration monitoring, telecom tests and education.

Extended capabilities
In a recent interview with EE Times-Asia, Chandran Nair, managing director of NI Southeast Asia, said that through the years, "LabVIEW has become a powerful platform." According to Nair, engineers and scientist using LabVIEW do not need to learn anything new. "LabVIEW ensures continuity, offering the latest technology while enabling engineers to concentrate on the problems at hand," he said.

Nair added that the platform "assures economies of scale. Customers get a good deal in terms of technological advancements and pricing."

Asked about the reason behind LabVIEW's shift to communications, Nair shared, "Customers like LabVIEW. But they are asking if there is a way to reduce time-to-market. There is a need for a common tool and the world is looking for a common platform to tie everything together."

The anniversary edition enables rapid prototyping and deployment with Real-Time System Validator to turn standard PCs into real-time systems; powerful control and simulation, particularly 9x performance improvements for LabVIEW Simulation Module; and open connectivity to design tools.

The latest LabVIEW edition also provides an open design platform that embraces multiple design tools and uses custom measurement capabilities to streamline product development. Engineers can use the new MathScript textual programming language, Modulation Toolkit and FPGA wizard, and integrate third-party plant models with the Simulation Module.

New market
The new toolkit for LabVIEW 8.20 has also won for NI the endorsement of one of the world's leading toy makers. Considered one of LabView's "biggest endorser," LEGO currently uses the LabVIEW toolkit for its MINDSTORMS NXT, allowing users to create and download virtual instrumentation to operate and control the MINDSTORMS NXT robotics platform. With the new toolkit, NI has tapped a new market?children aged 10 to 14.

According to NI, MINDSTORMS NXT, LEGO robotics invention system's next generation, includes a new programming environment, custom-developed by NI and powered by LabVIEW. The company and the LEGO Group have collaborated to develop MINDSTORMS NXT software that includes a simple drag-and-drop graphical interface.

LabVIEW's future
There is no slowing down for LabVIEW. According to Nair, NI hopes to develop one consolidated platform with graphical system design in the next 30 years. He added that NI is continuously working on all related technologies and new kinds of processors that it can add, and enhance sharing modes for Internet use.

NI will be exhibiting LabVIEW 8.20 at today's Embedded Systems Conference-Taiwan and EDA & Test-Taiwan Conference & Exhibition in Taiwan, which will run until tomorrow at the Taipei International Convention Center.

- Rhea Barua
Electronic Engineering Times-Asia

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