Triumph of the iPad

Presentations at NIWeek all seem to talk about how the applications work on iPads. The device has really taken over.

08/09/2012


Returning from NIWeek, I was struck with the ways in which the iPad has become an extension of so much of what National Instruments does. Comments about controlling something from an iPad or seeing data on an iPad was an element of many presentations. The idea of mobility and ease of use figures highly into NI’s ethos, so this shouldn’t really be a surprise.

Perhaps the ultimate manifestation of this was the last 15 minutes or so of the Wednesday keynote, where Kyle Gupton and Shelly Gretlein did a demonstration on an iPad of how LabView is being adapted to work in a touch-screen environment. The two presenters were sitting comfortably on a couch on the stage to show that this can be done anywhere. Gupton did assure us that versions are in the works for Android and Windows 8 platforms.

A few minutes into the presentation, we heard a familiar musical motive (the climax of Vesti la giubba from Leoncavallo’s opera Pagliacci, a.k.a., No More Rice Krispies) and Jeff Kodosky (“the father of LabView”) came out and showed some of the concepts behind how they were configuring the software to make it so easy to use in that environment. Kodosky described his thought process: “While playing Angry Birds one day, it hit me that there’s an awful lot of computational power and graphics on the iPad, and we ought to use more of that while we edit. So I’ve been playing around with this idea that I call a physics-based editor. What are the best laws of physics that will make my diagram stay neat and compact?”

Earlier in the morning when he made his opening remarks, Kodosky also looked like he was using an iPad for his notes. Given NI’s history as a company that built itself on graphical concepts, the connection with Apple goes back many years. Much of the early development work was done on Mac computers since they offered the only practical graphical platform back then. One of the interesting bits of trivia from the presentations was that if you had to build an iPad using technology from 1976, it would cost $3.2 billion, and it probably wouldn’t be portable.

As Kodosky observed in his opening remarks, “It wasn’t until years later when the Macintosh computer was introduced that it became clear that graphics could turn the virtual instrument abstraction into something more meaningful. Graphical panels would make the software-virtual instruments more clearly analogous to real instruments, and graphical panels would also make the software modules just as intuitive to operate. The Macintosh computer came along at an opportune time.”

NI isn’t the only company to see the value of the iOS ecosystem. Apple has created an environment that even industrial developers cannot ignore and new iPhone and iPad extensions of industrial automation platforms are popping up all the time. Perhaps some of these extensions are too easy and users are making deployments that aren’t as secure as they should be.

I saw a group of attendees at NIWeek wearing Dell shirts. I have to wonder what they were thinking as they saw so many of those silver backs with Apple logos on the stage.

Peter Welander, pwelander(at)cfemedia.com



No comments
The Engineers' Choice Awards highlight some of the best new control, instrumentation and automation products as chosen by...
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners.
Control Engineering Leaders Under 40 identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
Learn more about methods used to ensure that the integration between the safety system and the process control...
Adding industrial toughness and reliability to Ethernet eGuide
Technological advances like multiple-in-multiple-out (MIMO) transmitting and receiving
Virtualization advice: 4 ways splitting servers can help manufacturing; Efficient motion controls; Fill the brain drain; Learn from the HART Plant of the Year
Two sides to process safety: Combining human and technical factors in your program; Preparing HMI graphics for migrations; Mechatronics and safety; Engineers' Choice Awards
Detecting security breaches: Forensic invenstigations depend on knowing your networks inside and out; Wireless workers; Opening robotic control; Product exclusive: Robust encoders
The Ask Control Engineering blog covers all aspects of automation, including motors, drives, sensors, motion control, machine control, and embedded systems.
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
News and comments from Control Engineering process industries editor, Peter Welander.
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
This is a blog from the trenches – written by engineers who are implementing and upgrading control systems every day across every industry.
Anthony Baker is a fictitious aggregation of experts from Callisto Integration, providing manufacturing consulting and systems integration.
Integrator Guide

Integrator Guide

Search the online Automation Integrator Guide
 

Create New Listing

Visit the System Integrators page to view past winners of Control Engineering's System Integrator of the Year Award and learn how to enter the competition. You will also find more information on system integrators and Control System Integrators Association.

Case Study Database

Case Study Database

Get more exposure for your case study by uploading it to the Control Engineering case study database, where end-users can identify relevant solutions and explore what the experts are doing to effectively implement a variety of technology and productivity related projects.

These case studies provide examples of how knowledgeable solution providers have used technology, processes and people to create effective and successful implementations in real-world situations. Case studies can be completed by filling out a simple online form where you can outline the project title, abstract, and full story in 1500 words or less; upload photos, videos and a logo.

Click here to visit the Case Study Database and upload your case study.