Dear Desktop Engineering Reader:
I carry an iPad and an iPhone when I travel -- total weight, say, 2 lbs. with power cables. I can’t help chuckling recalling how I once absolutely awed airport security showing off my NEC PC-98-something, one of the first true notebooks. Doofus hipsterdom aside, I felt like I was a door-to-door anvil salesperson. It weighed 6.33 lbs, and its transformer and battery were each about the same. I packed a Hayes modem with it since there was no such bird as WiFi or overpriced hotel data ports. Still, it had its own briefcase.
Early adopters of smartphones and tablets faced the knock that you couldn’t do real work with them. And it was true. Reading books, dispatching e-mail, and fiddling with games, sure, but not work. Now, however, cloud access to your data and specialized applications coupled with some inexpensive or no cost apps, is changing all that. Fast. Today, you and your tablet or a cell can be at Dave & Buster’s — entertaining an important client, of course — and you can monitor processes, review CAD models, or crunch numbers almost just like in the office.
A recent example of bringing here and there together comes from National Instruments. It just released three data acquisition applications for Apple iOS and Android devices: Data Dashboard for LabVIEW, Data Dashboard Mobile for LabVIEW, and NI cDAQ-9191 Data Display. These no-cost apps enable you to get at measurement data from data acquisition and embedded monitoring systems wherever you happen to be. All you need is your Android, iPad, or iPhone and an Internet connection.
Data Dashboard for LabVIEW and Data Dashboard Mobile for LabVIEW are actually the same thing; the latter is the iPhone version. With them you can remotely view PC or embedded measurements from LabVIEW and create dashboard displays of network-published shared variables and deployed LabVIEW Web services. You have indicators, such as charts, gauges, textboxes, and LEDs, to visualize what’s happening. There’s no Web or app programming.
NI cDAQ-9191 Data Display app connects wireless NI CompactDAQ hardware directly to Android and iOS devices. You can configure, visualize, and save measurements. You can program custom apps that connect to wireless NI CompactDAQ devices, find devices on a local subnet, and even configure things like the number of samples and channels to acquire.
I downloaded these apps to my iPhone and iPad, ill equipped though I am to truly leverage them. NI cDAQ-9191 Data Display app in particular surprised me with how much it empowered you to do. But what is really neat is that these apps untether you from the mother ship. They enable you to do a bunch of work productively in a convenient, familiar form factor anywhere, which, in turn, allows you to do more work wherever you happen to be.
One more reason why I recommend that you check out these NI apps: They are the shape of things to come from NI as well as everyone else. My NEC notebook was a prototype by today’s standards, but it was the future. Running engineering apps on tablets and smartphones will change everything. It’s our future. Get your mobile devices out of the briefcase and see for yourself.
Thanks, Pal. — Lockwood
Anthony J. Lockwood
Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering
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