NI puts on an incredible show every year, and Initial State took advantage of the opportunity to exhibit at NI Week 2019. At the show, we released a LabVIEW SDK that can stream any data from LabVIEW to our configurable, anywhere-accessible, interactive dashboards — with a single VI. After being acquired by Tektronix in 2018, Initial State is serving the Tek customer base with innovative cloud-based solutions for test & measurement and expanding to new customers with cloud offerings in the embedded and IoT market. NI and Tek have a long history of working together, so the conference was a natural fit for us to speak with the LabVIEW community about this exciting release.
Besides on-demand walkthroughs of the Initial State platform, we showed 3 demos in our booth:
- Monitor your embedded system with Initial State — using compactRIO to implement a multi-PID tuned temperature control system, we demonstrated how a dashboard can monitor a system from anywhere. Our interactive visualizations displayed real-time auto-updating control parameters, actuals, set-points, statistics, error, state information, and device health. We utilized the LabVIEW SDK and Initial State IoT to configure a dashboard beautifully laid out on a laptop, tablet, and phone. Our trigger/alarm system was also watching the control system for out-of-tolerance fault signals, sending alerts through SMS, e-mail, or via an API.
- I/O from anywhere — At it’s core IoT implies sources of data are geographically and systemically diverse. “Things,” after all, is as specific as the name gets. To demonstrate “from anywhere”, we showed a single dashboard displaying disparate data collected from diverse sources: (1) NI Single-board RIO sending location, analog and digital data via LabVIEW Real Time, (2) NI cDAQ device sending temperature data through a PC and LabVIEW, (3) Keithley DAQ6510 sending measurement data via new firmware-level integration independently and directly to Initial State. (4) Raspberry Pi reporting processor and system health via python.
- The world famous Initial State Beer Fridge — With tongue firmly in cheek, and beer securely in hand, we hacked the bluetooth signals of two Wii Balance boards, sent raw load data using two dedicated Raspberry Pis, and used Initial State built-in real-time expressions to fuse the two “sensors” and do the math. Using our excel-like expression engine, we converted raw load signals to units of “beer”, and showed status, number of beers left, historical trends, raw weight, even beer emojis. Starting with approximately .5 centibeers we could monitor our fridge no matter how many we’d had.
Flashy demos only go so far, I had many real conversations about real systems with folks wanting the end result of interactive real-time dashboards. They immediately saw the value for both their internal systems and their products. The real NI Week demo was showing those people just how quickly, securely, cost-effectively, and with scale, Initial State could make this possible for them. Initial State offers no-cloud-programming required, highly configurable, fully new-school, security-grade, global-scale, anywhere-accessible dashboards and analytics. If you are reading this before lunch, you could likely have a beautiful browser-based dashboard in your product - LabVIEW or otherwise - by afternoon tea.
We are excited to add a LabVIEW SDK to the myriad SDKs and examples we already have for sending data to Initial State — opening a new community of developers, system integrators, engineers, and scientists to see just how attainable this value can be. As Mr. IoT said himself on the NI Week stage, “I gotta tell you…the industrial IoT is here, right now.” Implied in the statement, there is a window where IoT applications and the subsequent value props are continuing to be discovered and mined. The window of tech moves fast, and striking while the window is open makes all the difference.
P.S. I know the screenshot at the beginning of this article is not possible to create in LabVIEW. I photoshopped it. Get over it :)
Rick Kuhlman | Head of Product | Initial State (a Tektronix Company)