The Real-Time eXperiment Interface (RTXI) is a collaborative open-source software development project aimed at producing a real-time Linux-based software system for hard real-time data acquisition and control applications in biological research.

The ability of experimentalists to perturb biological systems has traditionally been limited to rigid pre-programmed protocols or more flexible, but reflex constrained, operator-controlled protocols. In contrast, real-time control allows the researcher to dynamically probe a biological system with parameter perturbations that are calculated functions of instantaneous system measurements, thereby providing the ability to address diverse unanswered questions that are not amenable to traditional approaches. Real-time control applications are abundant throughout biological research, including, for example, dynamic probing of ion-channel function, control of cardiac arrhythmia dynamics, and control of deep-brain stimulation patterns.

Unfortunately, for a number of technical reasons, real-time control is not possible with standard computer operating systems and software. Furthermore, commercial real-time systems are costly and often tailored for industrial applications. To circumvent these limitations, we have developed RTXI, a fast and highly versatile real-time biological experimentation system which is based on Real-Time Linux, is open source and free, can be used with an extensive range of experimentation hardware, and can be run on Linux or Windows computers (when temporarily booted into Linux using an RTXI Live CD).

If your use of RTXI leads to scientific publication, we request that you cite RTXI in your paper with text such as: ‘Experiments were performed using the Real-Time eXperiment Interface (RTXI; www.rtxi.org)’. You may also cite:

Lin et al. Real-time Experiment Interface for biological control applications. Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc (2010) vol. 1 pp. 4160-3


RTXI is funded by the National Institutes of Health (grant R01-EB016407).

National Institute of Health


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