NI Week 2014 Recap — Fun in Austin!

NI Week was awesome! From the concert-level production keynotes, to student presentations, to the LabVIEW code-off, it was so inspiring to see thousands of people rallying around technology, industry and education. It’s so hard to narrow it down to just a few highlights, but here’s my best attempt.

Digilent Booth 2
Demos at the Digilent booth at the academic forum.

Monday was the academic day of NI Week, and things certainly became busy for Digilent! We had a booth from 10am-5pm where we showcased three demos. On the left side of the above image, the demo uses LabVIEW with the chipKIT I/O Shield to run a LED strip. People could come by and change the color of the LEDs by running a finger around the color wheel on the touch screen. A big thanks to Sam Kristoff of LabVIEW Hacker for setting up this demo! It was fun to see so many people interacting with our products. In the middle of the demo table, you’ll see the six products Digilent has designed thus far to interact with the NI myRIO through its MXP connector — four expansion boards, a breadboard, and wire wrap. For more info on these products, check out Digilent’s NI Page. Finally, on the right you’ll see Multisim working with the Digilent Cmod S6 FPGA board to simulate a simple dice game (which I was totally winning all day…).

LabVIEW Hacker Demo
This kid kept coming by the LabVIEW Hacker demo, setting the LEDs to auto-cycle through the colors at the highest speed possible, and running away. Hilarious.

The academic keynote was given by Dave Wilson, Director of the Academic Program at National Instruments, and it was fantastic. It was very inspirational seeing the energy and technological progress surrounding education. But everything else paled in comparison to seeing Digilent boards five feet tall up there on that huge screen!  I loved it (photo quality notwithstanding). I highly recommend checking out the keynote presentations on the NI Week page, especially the final keynote on Thursday (sadly, Monday’s academic keynote is not there for viewing). I was also lucky enough to experience behind the scenes of the keynote stage and it’s humbling to see all the different disciplines and talented people that come together to create a production like that.

NI Academic Programs Keynote
NI Academic Programs keynote.

The next couple days I got to shadow various NI folk, to whom I am most grateful for the experience, and hang out on the Expo floor, pictured below. The Expo floor had too much to take in!

NI Week Exhibit Hall
NI Week exhibit hall. Photo by Erik Cegnar.


My favorite demos were Sam Kristoff’s LabVIEW Home Automation, as seen in this video, and the LabVIEW code-off. And I wasn’t the only one. Sam had a line of people waiting to sit down and try to create their ideal living space by controlling the temperature, lighting and entertainment options, all by waving a hand over the Leap Motion sensor. Definitely check out LabVIEW Hacker  to see this awesome demo and more. And by the uproars coming from  the crowd surrounding the Technology Theatre, you would have thought there was a major sporting event going on. Nope! It was the final “who is the fastest LabVIEW developer” showdown between this year’s winner and last year’s reigning champ. I wish I had a photo of this but I guess I was just as engrossed as everyone else!

photo (2)
Austin TechShop!

Lastly,  I got to visit TechShop. I absolutely tortured our poor tour guide with questions. But as one of my tasks this summer is to get the Digilent MakerSpace up and running, I just couldn’t help it! And I’m proud to say that we’re making some great strides with our space over here and visiting TechShop gave me some great ideas. I’m so grateful for our tour guide for her patience with me.


NI Week was a great experience and I hope to return next year! Thank you to everyone involved for such a valuable experience.


To stay in touch with the cool stuff we’re doing at the Digilent MakerSpace, make sure to regularly check this blog and our social media!

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