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We showed how to use R&A equipment from within MATLAB, based on a distributed software architecture that may be used to include support to other types of equipment. In fact, we built with it several other modules, not presented in the article, to handle CCD cameras, PLCs, and microcontrollers. With this type of interface, even nontrained users can easily use actual R&A equipment, since MATLAB is a fairly simple environment to use. This is particularly true with students, as our personal experience clearly shows. The ideas presented here were then applied to an industrial robot and to an intelligent sensor (force/torque sensor) and demonstrated with several examples. Finally a force control experiment was briefly introduced with the objective of demonstrating an R&D application of the presented setup.