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. 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.
“The availability of the LabVIEW Toolkit for LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT is critical for encouraging the development of additional tools for the system,” said Søren Lund, director of LEGO MINDSTORMS. “One of the key reasons for working with National Instruments to develop the NXT software was the ability for third-party developers to use LabVIEW to create add-on software blocks for our software. In addition, experienced MINDSTORMS users can easily migrate from the graphical drag-and-drop environment of MINDSTORMS NXT to the more advanced graphical programming in LabVIEW. Providing the tools advanced users need to take our system to the extreme is what made the legacy MINDSTORMS platform a huge success, and the NI toolkit furthers that tradition.”
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.
“The LabVIEW Toolkit for LEGO MINDSTORMS NXT makes customizing add-ons for the NXT extremely easy and encourages users to expand the MINDSTORMS experience,” said John Barnes, president of HiTechnic. “This type of customer-driven functionality will extend and enhance the experience of MINDSTORMS fans of all ages.”
LabVIEW 7.1 and 8.20 customers can download the beta version of the toolkit online beginning this fall.
About the LEGO Group
The LEGO Group is a privately held, family-owned company, based in Billund, Denmark. It was founded in 1932 and today the group is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of play materials for children, employing approximately 5,600 people globally. The LEGO Group is committed to the development of children’s creative and imaginative abilities. LEGO products can be purchased in more than 130 countries.
About National Instruments
For 30 years, National Instruments has been a technology pioneer and leader in virtual instrumentation – a revolutionary concept that has changed the way engineers and scientists in industry, government and academia approach measurement and automation. Leveraging PCs and commercial technologies, virtual instrumentation increases productivity and lowers costs for test, control and design applications through easy-to-integrate software, such as NI LabVIEW, and modular measurement and control hardware for PXI, PCI, PCI Express, USB and Ethernet. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, NI has more than 3,900 employees and direct operations in nearly 40 countries. For the past seven years, FORTUNE magazine has named NI one of the 100 best companies to work for in America.