Create the IoT with graphical system design software, flexible testing equipment

At 2014 NIDays in Chicago, Dave Wilson, director of academic programs at National Instruments, gave his insights on the Internet of things (IoT) and demonstrated the latest design and testing tools to create the IoT.

By Joy Chang October 8, 2014

The next big industrial trend is the Internet of things (IoT), suggested Dave Wilson, director of academic programs at National Instruments (NI), in the opening speech at 2014 NI Days in Chicago on Oct. 8. Approximately 500 engineers participated in the event.

“IoT will make everything better and faster, whether it is the automated testing of consumer devices; the designing, prototying, deploying and monitoring of industrial systems; or the development of the next generation of wireless communication,” Wilson said.

When Robert Metcalfe invented Ethernet, he noted that networking adds to data’s value by two, Wilson said. As IoT engineering progresses, it will change how things are communicated and influence all aspects of industry, from the consumer side, the industrial side, and data flow, he said. On the consumer side, there will be more wearable, smarter, faster phones; on the industrial side, intelligent factories and grids, smarter machinery control will mark the next crucial transition of the industry, Wilson suggested.

However, there are some questions and challenges facing IoT development. With the IoT’s focus on industry, Wilson said we need to ask:

-How much better are these devices actually operating?

-How are we going to expand the wireless bandwidth beyond 4G?

-How can IoT be applied to sensors and testing technologies?

Moore’s Law is moving beyond just digital. Analog devices also are transitioning into IoT. A lot of the traditional testing methods are challenged.

Several NI products were presented during the keynote to demonstrate IoT-based control and testing design instruments. NI’s LabView software, a graphical system design platform, is said to be used by 95% of Fortune 500 companies and the top 20 5G researchers in the United States. The software has 900 graphical functions and 800 text-based routines. It takes advantage of floating point gate array (FPGA) processors, data dashboards, and embedded HMI capabilities to allow data to be synchronized between browsers and mobile devices like Apple iPad.

Another NI product showcased during the keynote is the NI PXI platform, a PC-based test, measurement, and control system. According to Richard McDonnell, technical director at NI, PXI reduces testing time by 30% and testing cost by orders of magnitude compared to traditional big iron ATE testing equipment.

“With IoT, it is important to have an efficient testing system that can integrate data with different formats since it is not cost effective when the testing cost is almost as expensive as the manufacturing cost,” McDonnell said.

– Joy Chang is digital project manager, CFE Media,

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