A visit to National Instruments' annual NIWeek in August highlighted how this developer of test, measurement, and automation software and electronics leverages agreements with technology partners for the benefit of product design engineers.
These partners range from microchip and instrumentation manufacturers to motion-control, sensor, and CAD vendors. A key trend this year is how such collaborations are spreading the utility of NI LabVIEW™ software earlier in the design chain, rather than traditionally near the end during prototype and manufacturing test. At the event, President and CEO James Truchard said such instrumentation expansion is being driven by customer needs.
In a keynote presentation, Mike Santori, NI manager of business development, talked specifics, describing how LabVIEW can be used to test a simulated amplifier to requirements in the initial modeling or partial prototype stage. Measure-ments then allow engineers to make iterations immediately, rather than waiting for the validation test phase when more hardware is fabricated. The result: A reduction in product development time.
Also highlighted was what the company calls its Design Initiative with design-software developers. On the exhibit floor was a demonstration of its recently announced collaboration with Texas Instruments that integrates LabView into TI's Code Composer Studio™, a tool for designing digital signal processors (DSPs).
NI also discussed a form of cooperation that could be called "embed with the enemy." While LabVIEW is seen as competition for traditional standalone instrumentation, the company has cooperated with leading oscilloscope manufacturer Tektronix in preinstalling LabVIEW on its open Windows oscilloscopes, which hit the market in September.
Such wide-ranging cooperation in product development caused Truchard to offer a parable about the company's philosophy. "Today, PCs are ubiquitous. There's more MIPs and gigabytes. Just as a tree produces millions of seeds but only a few fall on fertile ground, our job is to find fertile ground for all those MIPs to fall on."