Pat Hindle, MWJ Editor
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Hindle
Pat Hindle is responsible for editorial content, article review and special industry reporting for Microwave Journal magazine and its web site in addition to social media and special digital projects. Prior to joining the Journal, Mr. Hindle held various technical and marketing positions throughout New England, including Marketing Communications Manager at M/A-COM (Tyco Electronics), Product/QA Manager at Alpha Industries (Skyworks), Program Manager at Raytheon and Project Manager/Quality Engineer at MIT. Mr. Hindle graduated from Northeastern University - Graduate School of Business Administration and holds a BS degree from Cornell University in Materials Science Engineering.

It's the most wonderful time of the year...

The NI Automated Test Outlook Report is Here

January 5, 2017

I look forward to this every year, when many companies provides an outlook on the year's projected hot topics and industry predictions. We can always count on NI to release its annual Automated Test Outlook. The 2017 report reviews the key technologies impacting automated test environments from reconfigurable test instrumentation to software-centric test platforms and ecosystems for next-generation device test.

This year the report is a special edition that NI Cofounder and Chairman of the Board Dr. James Truchard reflects on the past 40 years of test and measurement, identifies the most significant market and technology trends from recent years, and looks forward to what lies ahead. In the release, I like the way he reviews the electronic test industry, “The first era of modern instrumentation was led by General Radio and the vacuum tube; the second era was led by Hewlett-Packard and the transistor; today in the third era, National Instruments and software lead the way - We use the phrase ‘The software is the instrument’ to describe this trend.”

The line between software and hardware is disappearing as they merge in a software defined or virtual instrument world. We have covered this trend over the years and it has been realized in the newer modular instruments available from several manufacturers with NI initially leading the way in the RF and microwave space with PXI. As we launch the Internet of Things, we have evolved to the point where we can predict failures before the happen with precise monitoring, given a thorough analysis via test coupled with the power of Big Data. And now hardware in the loop testing now allows us to perform testing of real scenarios in the lab saving time and money. These trends are greatly increasing the value of instrumentation.

The report includes previous articles on selected topics with comments from Dr. T in each section.  Here is the outline of the report:

Prelude - Reflections on 40 Years from Dr. T
The evolution of instrumentation and trends over the years are outlined by Dr. T as he participated in and lead the industry over the last 4 decades.

Optimizing Test Organizations
Transforming a test organization into a strategic asset requires commitment to a long-term phased approach, from creating standard test platforms to building a data infrastructure to improve decision making.

Reconfigurable Instrumentation
Test systems are reconfigured for endless reasons, from adapting to new test requirements to accommodating instrument substitutions during calibration and repair cycles.

Software-Centric Ecosystems
The software-centric nature of technology can transform the capability of automated test systems to drive increased levels of productivity and collaboration.

Managed Test Systems
As Moore’s law continues to influence the performance of test systems, new data and communication technologies help test managers optimize their test systems to lower the cost of test.

Driven by Necessity
Safety regulations and software are pushing hardware-in-the-loop test to the forefront of transportation manufacturing in an increasingly software driven world.

You can download the complete report at www.ni.com/ato.

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