LabView "everywhere" at NI Week '99

On the road to making real-time more real, James Truchard, National Instruments' (NI) president and ceo, says running graphical software in real-time—independent of hardware devices—is the future platform for building computer-based measurement and automation systems.


On the road to making real-time more real, James Truchard, National Instruments' (NI) president and ceo, says running graphical software in real-time—independent of hardware devices—is the future platform for building computer-based measurement and automation systems.

In his keynote speech—which opened NI Week here Aug. 18—Dr. Truchard told 1,000 attendees the time is right for graphical tools, especially NI's LabView RT, to be used in real-time programming.

LabView (see Product Focus, CE, Sept. '99, p. 131) allows users to program instruments for specific needs and present data with interactive graphics. LabView's virtual instrument (VI) programs have traditionally run on processors inside PCs, but LabView RT enables VIs to operate inside many devices, such as portable instruments, machine controllers, industrial PCs, and web-based instruments. For test and measurement, LabView RT can help downsize automated test equipment and create multi-instruments in one chassis that function as an entire stack of traditional instruments. LabView RT can also be used for machine automation applications.

"National Instruments sees computers and instruments coming together. In the next millennium, NI is going to embrace computers as never before in our strategy of computer-based measurement and automation," says Dr. Truchard. "Our vision for the next few years will focus on LabView RT or embedded. I will be very interested to see LabView running on the other end of the computer cable. We are going to work hard to make that happen because our goal is to work with as many technologies as possible."

During NI Week, the company announced that LabView's image processing capabilities have been expanded to include high-speed pattern and color matching by incorporating the company's IMAQ Vision 5.0 software. To match patterns, NI uses a patent-pending image algorithm that runs 100 times faster than traditional gray-scale correlation matching.

Likewise, NI's Sound and Vibration Toolkit has been added to LabView. The kit saves time on sound and vibration measurements by using preprogrammed analysis functions, which also means users don't have develop analysis routines.

Staged at the Austin Convention Center, NI Week included technical presentations, hands-on workshops, an exhibit hall, a Meet the Experts night, and online formats for showcasing software, test, measurement, and automation applications. It also allowed attendees to learn about developments from NI's Alliance partners and other industry experts. The presentations were evenly balanced between NI products and other industry products. Topics included "Choosing the Right Fieldbus," "Connecting to Plant-Floor Measurements," and "OPC—To the Internet and Beyond."

In other news, NI announced Sept. 7 that it acquired GfS Systemtechnik GmbH & Co. KG (Aachen, Germany), an automotive software firm, for an undisclosed sum. The purchase, which includes a subsidiary in Novi, Michigan, resolves an earlier LabView-related patent infringement dispute.

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