National Instruments Introduces Wireless Sensor Network Platform

National Instruments recently announced the NI wireless sensor network (WSN) platform, a complete remote monitoring solution that consists of NI LabVIEW graphical programming software and new reliable, low-power wireless measurement nodes. The NI WSN platform takes advantage of more than 30 years of NI data acquisition system leadership to deliver an easy-to-use solution that provides high-quality measurement data, the flexibility to manage power consumption and the ability to customize wireless hardware for added functionality, according to the company. A key differentiator of the platform is LabVIEW software, which is said to integrate seamlessly with the new battery-powered, industrial-rated NI WSN measurement nodes that can be deployed in rugged conditions for long periods of time.
National Instruments is releasing its first two WSN nodes and plans to expand the measurement capabilities of the NI WSN platform. The wireless measurement nodes are powered by four AA batteries for up to three years, making them ideal for long-term deployments. The NI WSN-3202 four-channel, ± 10 V analog input node and NI WSN-3212 four-channel, 24-bit thermocouple node have four digital I/O channels that can be configured for input, sinking output or sourcing output. The platform also includes the NI WSN-9791 Ethernet gateway, which is used to connect the measurement nodes to LabVIEW.

The wireless devices include NI-WSN software, which connects the NI wireless devices to LabVIEW software running on Microsoft Windows or a LabVIEW Real-Time host controller. NI-WSN software is based on IEEE 802.15.4 technology and gathers measurement data from the distributed measurement nodes. The software also delivers capabilities for mesh routing and managing power usage across the network, making it possible to increase measurement distance while maintaining network reliability. Additionally, LabVIEW delivers seamless integration with wired measurement devices and a wide range of third-party wireless sensor network platforms.

While the measurement nodes are optimized for low-power, multiyear deployment with limited computing resources, LabVIEW provides the ability to customize the embedded software on each node using the LabVIEW Wireless Sensor Network Module Pioneer. Programming customized logic on traditional wireless sensor network platforms often requires expertise in embedded operating systems and low-level, event-based programming. Using the intuitive graphical programming of LabVIEW, engineers and scientists easily can program the nodes to extend battery life, perform custom analysis and reduce response time with embedded decision-making.

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