National Instruments CEO Reveals Future of Virtual Instrumentation

8/20/2004 - Dr. James Truchard, CEO and president of National Instruments, shared his vision of virtual instrumentation to a record number of NIWeek conference attendees. He discussed how the inherent dataflow methodology of LabVIEW makes it an ideal platform for design and embedded control applications and outlined how future LabVIEW developments will expand virtual instrumentation further into embedded software development and industrial control.

“The virtual instrumentation revolution is thriving and growing faster than ever before thanks to a record number of ground-breaking products that our R&D department is turning out,” Truchard said. “Virtual instrumentation has become mainstream for test applications, and our users are seeing ever-increasing benefits in productivity and performance in this area. We now see unlimited possibilities to apply virtual instrumentation to design and control applications to extend the productivity gains of LabVIEW to new application areas.”

Trends in embedded system design, including the move from low-level tools to platform-based tools and from single processors with one operating system to multiple processors with multiple operating systems, make LabVIEW a natural fit for this area. He explained how design engineers need a platform-based tool that, like LabVIEW, can address multiple models of computation – from state diagrams to simulation models to graphical data flow – while eliminating the complexity that limits application development.

“When we first designed LabVIEW, we set out to eliminate the artificial complexity in traditional programming environments,” Truchard said. “We worked to remove the confusion between what the user is trying to do and what the software actually is doing on the processor. Graphical programming takes significant steps forward in that role, and it has demonstrated this time and again with productivity improvement and much better designs using the LabVIEW paradigm.”

He discussed major strides that virtual instrumentation has made in industrial control. “In the new view of programmable automation controllers, virtual instrumentation serves both the traditional industrial control market and the advanced control market with the same software and hardware,” he said. “The phrase ‘0 to infinity’ defines this new kind of control. From logic with 0s and 1s up to H infinity advanced control, virtual instrumentation is spanning an entire range of millions of applications with one LabVIEW platform.”

Following Truchard’s address, Mike Santori, NI business and technology fellow, previewed some future LabVIEW innovations. He demonstrated how NI plans to advance the technology behind two new platforms the company released yesterday, Express technology in SignalExpress measurement software and reconfigurable I/O technology in CompactRIO hardware, and showed how engineers will deploy LabVIEW to their own custom hardware in the future.

“We’re planning to better address your needs, whether you require highly interactive measurements, measurement and control hardware custom designed for you, large distributed systems, or embedded applications on your own custom hardware,” Santori said. “We’re confident that LabVIEW is the platform that will continue to make you successful far into the future.”

Truchard, a respected veteran of the measurement and automation industry, often advises and counsels industry, academic and governmental organizations on technology issues. He is a member of the University of Texas System Chancellor’s Council and a former member of Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s Advisory Council on Digital Economy. He cofounded National Instruments in 1976 in Austin, Texas, and has led the company through 27 years of growth.

Santori has played a vital role in the marketing and development of National Instruments revolutionary software products. Santori currently manages the software product strategy group where he oversees the product direction of NI LabVIEW and other virtual instrumentation software.

About National Instruments
National Instruments ( is a technology pioneer and leader in virtual instrumentation – a revolutionary concept that has changed the way engineers and scientists approach measurement and automation. Leveraging the PC and its related technologies, virtual instrumentation increases productivity and lowers costs through easy-to-integrate software and modular hardware. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, NI has more than 3,100 employees and direct operations in 40 countries. In 2003, the company sold products to more than 25,000 companies in 90 countries. For the past five years, FORTUNE magazine named NI one of the 100 best companies to work for in America.

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