I saw something interesting as day two of NIWeek progressed: families, with small children wandering throughout the conference and exhibit halls. At first I thought it was a bit strange, but once I really began to explore the exhibit floor for myself, I understood why National Instruments invited families to attend the event.
One of the first booths you see is the Sports Science booth, where National Instruments technologies combine with sensors to measure your abilities and speeds in a variety of athletic “competitions:” ladder running, golf swing, stationary cycling, and a ball toss. It was fun to compete in these areas, although I readily admit I’m not the most athletic. I did best at the ball toss, while failing miserably at the golf swing challenge (those six weeks of lessons 12 years ago clearly are long forgotten!).
In addition to other cool NI booths which highlight vision systems, embedded control and monitoring, and automated test and data acquisition, two other popular areas included the North American Eagle land jet, and of course, the Robotics Pavilion.
A variety of robots were on display here, including one that is used to diagnose and treat children with autism. Dubbed Zeno, this little guy is cute and just a bit creepy at the same time, with soft “fleshy” skin on his face and eyes that blink. Attendees also got a glimpse of the NI technology in use in the FIRST Robotics competition.
All in all, NIWeek is a work event, but the engineers, designers and thinkers at National Instruments know how to make it fun.