What Does ‘NI’ Do?

National Instruments Corporation, incorporated in May 1976, is a supplier of products that engineers and scientists use in a range of industries. These industries consist of a diverse market for design, control and test applications. The Company provides graphical application software and modular hardware to create measurement, automation and embedded systems. Its segment is based on geographic regions, which include the Americas, Europe and Asia Pacific. It offers a line of measurement and automation products that provides engineers and scientists to create automated test, industrial control, and embedded design applications. The Company’s products consist of off-the-shelf application software and modular, hardware components together with related driver software. In May 2011, it acquired Phase Matrix, Inc. (PMI). In July 2011, the Company acquired AWR Corporation.

On February 1, 2010, the Company acquired all of the outstanding shares of a privately-held company. On December 31, 2010, it also acquired all of the outstanding shares of a privately-held company. The Company serves industries and applications worldwide: advanced research, automotive, automated test equipment, consumer electronics, commercial aerospace, computers and electronics, continuous process manufacturing, education, government/defense, medical research/pharmaceutical, power/energy, semiconductors, telecommunications and others.

Application Software

The Company provides measurement and automation application software for virtual instrumentation and Graphical System Design. Its application software products include LabVIEW, LabVIEW Real-Time, LabVIEW Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs), Measurement Studio, LabWindows/ C for Virtual Instrumentation (CVI), DIAdem, NI TestStand, NI VeriStand, and Multisim. Its application software products are integrated with its hardware/driver software. It offers a range of software products for developing test, control and design applications to meet its customer’s programming and computer preferences. LabVIEW, LabWindows/CVI and Measurement Studio are programming environments where scientists and engineers can design, prototype and deploy systems. With these software products, users can design custom virtual instruments by creating a graphical user interface (GUI) on the computer screen through which they operate the actual program and control selected hardware.

LabVIEW, LabWindows/CVI and Measurement Studio have ready-to-use libraries for controlling thousands of programmable instruments, including its hardware products, as well as serial, General Purpose Interface Bus (GPIB), VME extensions for instrumentation (VXI), peripheral component interconnect (PCI), PCI Express, PCI Extensions for Instrumentation (PXI), PXI Express, Ethernet and universal serial bus (USB) measurement and automation devices from other vendors. With LabVIEW, users program graphically, developing application programs by connecting icons with software wires to create block diagrams, which are natural design notations for scientists and engineers. With LabVIEW Real-Time, the user can configure their application program to execute using an operating system kernel instead of the Windows operating system.

LabWindows/CVI users use the text-based programming language of C for creating test and control applications. Measurement Studio consists of measurement and automation add-on libraries and additional tools for programmers that use Microsoft’s Visual Basic, Visual C++, Visual C# and Visual Studio.NET development environments. The Company offers a software product, national instruments (NI) TestStand focused on testing and manufacturing (T&M) applications in a manufacturing environment. TestStand is a test management environment for organizing, controlling, and running automated prototype, validation, and manufacturing test systems. It also generates customized test reports and integrates product and test data across the customers’ enterprise and across the Internet. NI DIAdem offers users configuration-based technical data management, analysis, and report generation tools to interactively mine and analyze data. It offers volume licensing that helps customer’s investment by reducing total cost of ownership and their software budgeting and purchasing.

Hardware Products and Related Driver Software

The Company’s hardware and related driver software products include data acquisition (DAQ), PXI chassis and controllers, image acquisition, motion control, distributed I/O, modular instruments and embedded control hardware/software, industrial communications interfaces, GPIB interfaces, and VXI Controllers. Its DAQ hardware and driver software products are instruments on a board that users can combine with sensors, signal conditioning hardware and software to acquire analog data and convert it into a digital format that can be accepted by a computer. The Company offers a range of computer-based DAQ products, including models for digital, analog and timing input-output, and for transferring data directly to a computer’s random-access memory. Other product introductions include Ethernet DAQ and X Series DAQ. PXI modular instrument platform is a standard personal computer.

The Company offers a range of modular instrument devices used in general purpose test and communication test applications. These devices include digitizers, digital multimeters, signal generators, radio frequency (RF) analyzers/generators, power supplies, source measurement units and switch modules. Options are available for a variety of platforms, including PXI, PXI Express, PCI, PCI Express and USB. Its machine vision platform includes hardware ranging from plug-in devices for PCI and PXI systems to image processing on the sensor itself with the NI Smart Camera. Software options include image acquisition software to acquire images from thousands of cameras, an image processing library, and a configurable interface for industrial machine vision applications.

By integrating flexible software with high-performance hardware, the Company’s motion control products offer a solution for motion system design. From automating test equipment and research labs to controlling biomedical, packaging and manufacturing machines, engineers use its motion products. Its distributed I/O products, including Compact FieldPoint, and CompactRIO, are designed for remote measurement, industrial control and embedded data-logging applications. The Company offers hardware and driver software product lines for communication with industrial devices-Controller Area Network (CAN), DeviceNet, Foundation Fieldbus, and RS-485 and RS-232. Its diverse portfolio of hardware and software products for GPIB instrument control is available for a range of computers. Its GPIB product line also includes products for controlling GPIB instruments using the computer’s standard parallel, USB, IEEE 1394 (Firewire), Ethernet, and serial ports.

The Company is a supplier of VXI computer controller hardware and the accompanying NI-VXI and NI-VISA driver software. It also offers LabVIEW, LabWindows/CVI, Measurement Studio and TestStand software products for VXI systems. The Company’s technicians install software and hardware and configure its customers’ PXI, PXI/SCXI combination, NI CompactRIO, or NI Compact FieldPoint system to their specifications. The Company provides calibration solutions, including recalibration services, manual calibration procedures and automated calibration software. It provides repair services for its products, express repair, and advance replacement services.


The Company offers fee-based training classes and self-paced course kits for many of its software and hardware products. On-site courses are quoted per customer requests and it includes on-line course offerings with live teachers. It also offers programs to certify programmers and instructors for its products.

The Company competes with Agilent Technologies Inc. (Agilent).