August 7, 2009

NI Week: Where NI Technology Gets Real

As NI's newest tech writer, I feel like it's part of my job to experience as much of our technology as possible. In my day to day work, I can do this by talking with developers about the product and learning from them about how the customer might use the new features they're working on. Sometimes I get the chance to see a demo, but it's rare that I get to see the end result from a customer's application.

As I entered the Austin Convention Center on Tuesday morning, there was a lot of energy in the (chilly, air-conditioned) hall. People were flooding up the escalators to get a good seat for the morning's keynote with Dr. T. It was truly amazing to see the community of engineers who are so passionate about their work and about the technology. Dr. T's talk was fantastic, as were the keynotes from the other speakers. What really fascinated me, though, was the multitude of demos set up on the stage each morning.

We got to see robots climb stairs and see a robotic arm offer up a first aid kit with excellent comic timing. We even got to hear the Star Wars theme played on a laser harp:

Each demo showed the amazing range of applications where NI technology can be utilized. On the third morning, the demos highlighted socially responsible uses for engineering innovation, and groups presented their vision of a better future. Mashavu demonstrated their networked health solutions designed to make it easier for people in 3rd world countries to get in contact with a medical professional. Envirofit, born out of CSU's Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory, showed off their low-cost cook stove that eliminates much of the dangerous pollution associated with traditional cooking methods in developing countries.

For me, NI Week not only showed how the products I write for become tangible systems, but also showed how my work and the work of our developers and engineers can be connected to the rest of the world. At NI Week, I got to really see our technology come alive. Sometimes it can be easy to lose sight of that big picture, so I was grateful for the opportunity to reconnect.