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NI launches 20th anniversary edition of LabVIEW

Posted: 18 Sep 2006 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:National Instruments? NI? LabVIEW? LabVIEW 8.20? Mindstorms Nxt?

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

Today, NI's mission is to "do for embedded what the PC did for desktop." The company unveiled last month the 20th anniversary edition of the LabVIEW graphical system design platform. LabVIEW 8.20 broadens 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. In 2002, LabVIEW was incorporated into human-machine interfaces. In April this year, the platform was implemented in Analog Devices Inc.'s Blackfin processors for faster embedded system development.

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, Chandran Nair, managing director of NI Southeast Asia, said that through the years, "LabVIEW has become a powerful platform." According to Nair, engineers and scientists using LabVIEW need not 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 said, "Customers like LabVIEW. But they're 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, 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 a leading toy maker. 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 marketchildren aged 10 to 14.

According to NI, Mindstorms Nxt, LEGO robotics invention system's next-generation product 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, in the next 30 years, NI hopes to develop one consolidated platform with graphical system design. He added that NI is continuously working on all related technologies and new kinds of processors that it can add to enhance sharing modes for Internet use.

NI leverages PCs and commercial technologies, virtual instrumentation, and control and design applications through easy-to-integrate software with modular measurement and control hardware for PXI, PCI, PCI Express, USB and Ethernet. The company exhibited LabVIEW 8.20 at the Embedded Systems Conference and EDA & Test-Taiwan Conference and Exhibition last August.

- Rhea Barua
Electronic Engineering Times - Asia

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