NATIONAL Instruments has announced the NI LabVIEW Toolkit for LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT. With the new toolkit, LabVIEW users can create and download VIs to operate and control the MINDSTORMS NXT robotics platform.
Third-party software and hardware developers also can use the toolkit to create native blocks for MINDSTORMS NXT software.
MINDSTORMS NXT, the next generation of the popular LEGO robotics invention system, became available earlier this month and includes a new programming environment, custom developed by NI and powered by LabVIEW.
The LEGO Group and National Instruments worked together to develop the new MINDSTORMS NXT software that includes a simple drag-and-drop, graphical interface optimized for the target MINDSTORMS NXT consumer - children 10-14 years old.
With the new LabVIEW toolkit, more advanced MINDSTORMS NXT users, including adults, students and secondary school and university educators, now can program the NXT using advanced graphical programming tools available in LabVIEW.
This year (2006) marks 20 years of LabVIEW innovation, and this toolkit continues its evolution by making LabVIEW accessible and intuitive enough for an audience it has never before engaged - children.
With the toolkit, users also can interact with the NXT robot while a program is running. By dropping a LabVIEW control, the toolkit can send data to the robot and influence the currently executing program.
By dropping an indicator, the value at that point in the program is sent back to the PC and viewed in a regular LabVIEW front panel.
Developers of third-party sensors and other hardware add-ons for MINDSTORMS NXT can use LabVIEW to create native blocks that program and control their hardware for use in MINDSTORMS NXT software.
For example, HiTechnic Products developed the Digital Compass Sensor for MINDSTORMS NXT and is currently using the new LabVIEW toolkit to create blocks for this and other sensors.