3,300 attendees greeted James Truchard, Ph.D. aka “Dr. T” and President and CEO of National Instruments, as he opened the 17th NI Week in Austin, Texas. CEOs of automation suppliers usually devote their keynotes to discussing company financials and competitive place in the market. True to the technology roots of NI, though, Dr. T gave an overview of technology development in the instrumentation area.

During his career in instrumentation he’s seen the driving force of technology last about 45 years. It started with vacuum tube technology then to transistors. Now software is the driving force.

Speaking of software, LabView is 25 years old. NI feels it has accomplished its original goal to do for scientists and engineers what the spreadsheet did for financial analysts. The next 25 years will see LabView expanding into system design. Dr. T built on that theme saying, “LabView will do for embedded what the PC did for the desktop.”

The theme of NI Week 2011 and LabView 2011 is productivity. Several executives took different approaches to explaining how. Dr. T stated the goal. Vice President of Product Marketing Eric Stakloff discussed how Graphical Systems Design, an abstraction description of LabView, accelerates development. He also gave the annual new product releases keynote to the usual applause of appreciative customers with every leap of technology announced. Vice President of Product Marketing-Core Products Ray Almgren discussed the increasing complexity of embedded devices such as mobile phones that makes programming in a sequential language such as C very difficult. The GSD approach provides a framework for visualizing and abstracting complex problems.

A few other bits of information. NI had 1,300 net new hires in the past year. It is investing $200 million in research and development.

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