LabVIEW, Arduino & Android

During lunch today I picked up the words LabVIEW and Arduino. Now that got me interested (or excited, as they would say here) and it turned out that a technical session about hacking Arduino with LabVIEW would take place later in the afternoon. So I attended and learned some very interesting things indeed.

First of all that it was not only about Arduino. To be totally honest, Arduino was a bit of a minor topic, the more important topics concerned interfacing to the Kinect, the Wiimote, iRobot, Neato and Android systems. Nevertheless they did do Arduino too. NI uses interns to develop all sorts of fun applications with their products. Waterloo Labs - who earned their fifteen minutes of fame about a year ago when they drove a car using an iPhone and posted a video about it on YouTube - is in it too.

So how do you interface Arduino to LabVIEW? It is pretty simple. You load Arduino with a special sketch to create an I/O server. Then in LabVIEW you install some VIs for Arduino. You should also install the NI-VISA serial port drivers if you don't have them allready. That's about it. And the great thing about this is that it is all free and open source!

Let's be clear about this, you cannot create a program in LabVIEW and then run it on the Arduino. In this setup Arduino is merely an input/output device, but a very cheap and hackable one for which many shields are available and you can use all the power of LabVIEW to control it or process the data. And if you replace the serial cable by a wireless link (Bluetooth f.i.), it is almost if Arduino is running stand alone.

This is all excellent news, because now you too can interface your project to LabVIEW as long as it has a serial port. All you have to do is port the sketch to your hardware and adapt the VI.

All this stuff and much more, like how to hack the Kinect or the Wiimote, is on LabVIEW hacker dot com

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