Software simplifies virtual instrumentation

Written by: Tom Shelley | Published:

New software aims to reduce complexity to the user and bring in more powerful computing elements

New software from National Instruments aims, in the words of Peter Zogas, the company's vice president, sales and marketing, "To reduce complexity to the user and bring in more powerful computing elements."

LabView is widely used in many industries to create test, measurement and control systems and to rapidly prototype and simulate products under development. It is a combination of hardware modules and a multi platform visual programming environment. The LabView 7 Express upgrade is the result of four years of development work and 300 man-years of effort. The new version includes Express VIs (Virtual Instruments) which scan for hardware, rather like 'Plug and Play' and allow engineers to quickly create common measurement applications using 'Wizard' type dialogs. Having set them up using sample data, it is then possible to reconfigure them in the light of received real data.

Two new interactive 'Assistants' for data acquisition and instrument control further speed development. With the LabView 7 FPGA and PDA modules, it is possible to program hardware solutions using FPGA technology and build hand-held portable applications.

Zogas told Eureka that with the availability of SQL tool kits, LabView can be used to set up any automated application including those requiring interfaces to ERP systems. He briefly described an application which involved weighing packages, labelling them and charging credit card accounts.

LabView 7 Express is priced from $995, or 1,295 euros. The LabView 7 FPGA, PDA Real-Time and Datalogging and Supervisory Control modules are each priced at $1,995 or 2,645 euros. Supported platforms are Windows 2000/NT/XP/98, MacOS, Linux and Sun Solaris. TS

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* Software aims to reduce complexity an time required in programming systems based on the LabView visual programming environment
* New modules include FPGA and PDA capabilities
* The software may be used to set up any automated application. Interfaces to databases and ERP systems are available
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