Hype or not, here it comes, the much ballyhooed Internet of Things (or IoT). Essentially the next phase in the evolution of the Internet, it is the envisioned future in which billions of devices (from computers to anything that has a computer embedded in it such as medical devices, refrigerators, your shoes, and so much more) will go online and be able to communicate with one another. (We’ve done our fair share of coverage of IoT, including the role of sensors in the IoT, building a secure IoT, and an overall look at the IoT phenomenon.)
Attendees heard an awful lot about the IoT at this year’s NI Week in Austin, TX, the annual developer’s forum/technical conference/exhibition put on by Austin-based National Instruments. And judging from product offerings and the LabVIEW platform that NI has nurtured for decades, it’s no surprise that the company is poised to take advantage of this next wave of innovation.
Highlighting just one new product offering, the company’s NI sbRIO-9651 System on Module (SOM) is a small and compact circuit board the size of a credit card that packs quite a bit into a small space.
The NI SOM combines the Xilinx Zynq All Programmable system on a chip (SoC) with supporting components such as memory on a small PCB and features a complete middleware solution and ready-to-go Linux-based real-time operating system (RTOS) already integrated which gives design teams access to an extensive community of applications and IP. It gives design teams the customizability of a SOM without the increased time and risk of developing custom software. Plus, integration with LabVIEW FPGA and its intuitive approach to FPGA programming eliminates the need for hardware description language expertise.
It ultimately lets designers deploy reliable, complex embedded systems faster because it’s based on and has the same rigorous design standards as the LabVIEW reconfigurable I/O (RIO) architecture. This architecture has already been used in high-reliability applications such as unmanned aerial vehicles and cataract surgery machines, among others.
Spending time at NI Week drives home one overwhelming point, namely NI’s success at providing one of the most powerful, comprehensive, all-inclusive design platforms for engineers. Time and again the demonstrations and case study stories presented by the engineers responsible for these designs brought home the point; that is, how easy the NI suite of tools makes it for engineers to go from vision to reality, no matter if you’re a high school student or a PhD candidate or a seasoned industry professional.