Lego and NI jointly developed the Lego Mindstorms software beginning in 1998, and its been an open secret that the software bundled with Lego Mindstorms NXT is actually a version of NI's flagship LabView software with a "kid-friendly" graphical user interface. NI announced during NI week that beginning in December, LabView would have a plug-in to allow it to be used directly with the Mindstorms NXT robots.
In other news at NI Week, the company celebrated the 20th anniversary of LabView by announcing the availability of LabView 8.20, which has some significant new features, including the ability to run mathscript. This is a new, simplified process for calling DLLs, which is the ability to call .NET Web services directly from Labview, and the ability to use OPC UA.
Built with sophisticated sensors for sound, vision and touch, and powered by National Instruments' Labview software, Lego robots are key to science education.
Dr. Truchard, as well as other speakers throughout the week, continued to expound on the concept of a single design element (NI and LabView) from concept to deployment. "You can design your project," Dr. Truchard added, "and then use NI FPGA modules to prototype, and make short production runs, while using the LabView validation tools, and you can even deploy your product using high-volume chipsets like Blackfin for final production."
When asked why NI seemed to have only one or two toes in the process automation market, and most of the time seemed directed to the embedded devices market, Dr. Truchard noted that the embedded devices market was huge, close to $30 billion, much larger than the PLC market, and had few large automation suppliers as competitors. "We expect," he said, "to do for embedded what the PC did for software."