Big Data

Introduction to Data Acquisition

Dan Shangraw, P.E., Automated Software Technology
April 21, 2022
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Photo by <a href="">freestocks</a> on <a href="">Unsplash</a>

Photo by <a href="">freestocks</a> on <a href="">Unsplash</a>


Many have heard about Data Acquisition systems, but what are they really?

Introduction to Data Acquisition

Data acquisition(DAQ) is the process of measuring an electrical or physical phenomenon such as voltage, current, temperature, pressure,or sound with a computer. A DAQ system consists of sensors, DAQ measurement hardware, and a computer with programmable software.


 A sensor is a device that converts a physical phenomenon into an electrical signal that can be measured with a data acquisition system. An example of a sensor is a microphone. A microphone converts sound energy into an electrical signal that can be amplified, transmitted, and recorded. Other examples of sensors are:

  • Load cells: for measuring weight and load
  • LVDT sensors: LVDTs are used to measure displacement in distance
  • Accelerometers: measuring vibration and shock
  • Microphones: for capturing sound waves
  • Current transducers: for measuring AC or DC current
  •  Digital sensors: used for discrete on/off counting, linear and rotary encoding, position measurements, etc.
Image source: Electronics Hub

DAQ Device

 A data acquisition device or DAQ is a device that converts a physical signal into a digital signal that can be read by a computer. Data acquisition devices can also include signal conditioning that can filter, linearize, amplify, or attenuate the signal from the sensor. DAQ devices can connect to a computer via USB, Ethernet, or Wi-Fi.

Example of a USB DAQ card from NI


 DAQ systems typically contain a computer to acquire, analyze, present, and store data measured by the DAQ card and sensors. The computer can be a standard Windows PC or laptop or an embedded controller. Custom software can be developed to display and analyze the acquired data. Data acquired can be saved to file that can be analyzed at a later time. Excel, or MATLAB can be used to graph and analyze data. Data can also be stored in a database for quality control or analysis.

Example of a data acquisition system


 Customers use data acquisition systems to perform automated testing on their products. This can greatly improve product quality and generate meaningful data to learn how the product is performing. Automated Software Technology develops custom software used in data acquisition systems. We can also help you select the right hardware and sensors for you application. Visit us for more information on our capabilities more in-depth information about data acquisition, and examples or other projects we have done for customers. You can also join our Roundtable discussion hosted by Automation Alley this June

Dan Shangraw, P.E., Automated Software Technology
Dan Shangraw, P.E., Automated Software Technology

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