If you visited the LabVIEW Zone at NIWeek 2013, you might have noticed an interesting chess board. I know, many people think “interesting chess” is an oxymoron, but stay with me.
Engineer’s chess, or robot chess, was inspired by wizard’s chess in the world of Harry Potter. Pieces move on their own, according to the players’ verbal commands.
In our version of wizard’s chess, you play against NI LabVIEW software, which runs on an embedded NI CompactRIO controller. The controller contains the chess algorithm, and controls the motion and vision of the chess demo.
The engineering chess board.
A LabVIEW user interface lets you know how much time you have left. When it’s your turn, you move your piece like a normal chess game, then push a button to confirm your move with the computer.
LabVIEW responds based on its pre-programmed chess algorithm, moving all pieces associated with its move via an electromagnet—so it appears the pieces are moving by magic, without being touched.
We originally told you that LabVIEW was undefeated at chess, but we've realized our mistake (and wish we could use the obliviate charm to erase your memories). At least two NIWeek attendees and a few NI employees beat LabVIEW on the "easy" skill level (which thinks one move ahead). However, we have yet to hear about anyone defeating the "hard" LabVIEW algorithm (which thinks 20 moves ahead)!
NI engineers are working to extend the demo so that you can play against remote opponents instead of just a computer. One day soon, you’ll be able to challenge a friend in Dubai to a game, while watching the pieces move right in front of you!