Virtual instrumentation combines thought industrial Technologies, like the personal computer with versatile software and a large variety of measurement and control hardware. Engineers use virtual instrumentation to bring the facility of flexible software and personal computer technology to test, control, and design applications making accurate analog and digital measurements.

Virtual instrumentation is a pc software that a user would use to develop a computerized test and measurement system for controlling from a computer desktop, and external measurement hardware device and for displaying, test or measured data collected by the external device on an instrument like panels on a display screen.

Virtual instrumentation uses extremely productive software, standard input/output, and industrial platforms. National Instruments LabVIEW, a premier virtual instrumentation graphical development environment, uses symbolic or graphical representation to speed up development. The software symbolically represents functions.

Comparison between Traditional Instruments & Virtual Instruments

S.No. Traditional Instruments Virtual Instruments
1 Vendor-defined User-defined
2 Function-specific, stand-alone with limited connectivity Application-oriented system with connectivity to networks, peripherals, and applications
3 Hardware is the key Software is the key
4 Expensive Low-cost, reusable
5 Closed, fixed functionality Open, flexible functionality leveraging off familiar computer technology
6 Slow turn on technology (5–10-year life cycle) Fast turn on technology (1–2-year life cycle)
7 Minimal economics of scale Maximum economics of scale
8 High development and maintenance costs Software minimizes development and maintenance costs

Comparison of Text Based and Graphical Programming

S.No. Text Based Programming Graphical Programming
1 Syntax must be known to do programming Syntax is knowledge but is not required for programming
2 The execution of the program is from top to bottom The execution of the program is from left to right
3 To check for the error the program has to be compiled or executed Errors are indicated as we wire the blocks
4 Front panel design needs extra coding or needs extra work Front panel design is a part of programming
5 Text based programming is not interactive Graphical programming is highly interactive
6 This is the text based programming where the programming is not conventional method The programming is data flow programming
7 Logical error finding is easy in large programs Logical error finding in large programs is quite complicated
8 Program flow is not visible Data flow is visible
9 It is Text based Programming It is icon based programming and wiring
10 Passing parameters to sub routine is difficult Passing Parameters to sub VI is easy

Advantages of Virtual Instrumentation

  1. Performance
  2. Platform-Independent Nature
  3. Flexibility
  4. Lower Cost
  5. Plug-In and Networked Hardware
  6. The Costs of a Measurement Application
  7. Reducing System Specification Time Cost
  8. Lowering the Cost of Hardware and Software
  9. Minimizing Set-Up and Configuration Time Costs
  10. Decreasing Application Software development Time Costs
Virtual Instrumentation | Advantages

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