The data acquisition process, or DAQ, involves converting physical data into a unified form, which has digital numeric values. The conversion is necessary so that the data can be manipulated by a computer and used for applications such as research and processing. DAQ can be performed through either DAQ devices such as temperature recorders or data loggers, or it can be performed as part of an entire DAQ system, which is typically abbreviated DAS.
Performed either by a device or whole system, DAQ processes are critical to a broad spectrum of industries including: medical, for the acquisition of clinical trial data by means such as central web based systems and local electronic data capture systems; agriculture, useful for determining optimum planting conditions such as the soil moisture level; aerospace, for the acquisition of data by means including flight data acquisition units and structural dynamics test systems; and automotive, for use in vehicle data acquisition systems for applications such as vehicle testing and performance monitoring.
A variety of components, devices and types of DAQ devices and systems are available to suit many diverse applications. Some of the more common DAQ devices include data loggers, temperature recorders and DAQ hardware. Data loggers are defined as being any device with the ability of storing data, with examples including plug-in boards and serial communication systems. As a more specific type of data logger, temperature recorders are utilized for the measurement of the physical phenomena of temperature, or the degree of hot or cold of an environment.
Lastly, DAQ hardware refers to electronic hardware that must be physically plugged into a computer system. In addition to many different DAQ devices and systems, there are various methods in which DAQ can be achieved. The most common method is PC DAQ, which includes the vast majority of DAS and DAQ devices that require a connection to a host computer in order to function.
In fact, there are many types of DAQ devices that plug directly into the host computer. One example of this type of DAQ method is USB DAQ. A USB device is a serial bus that has become standard for connecting and establishing communication between DAQ devices and a computer. USB DAQ offers several advantages for DAS including the ability to provide power to peripheral devices as well as offering a higher bandwidth which the capability of reaching 12 Mbits/s.