Data Acquisition

What Does Data Acquisition Mean?

Data acquisition is the process of measuring physical world conditions and phenomena such as electricity, sound, temperature and pressure. This is done through the use of various sensors which sample the environment’s analog signals and transform them to digital signals using an analog-to-digital converter. The resulting digital numeric values can then be directly manipulated by a computer, allowing for the analysis, storage and presentation of these data.

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Techopedia Explains Data Acquisition

Data acquisition is primarily done using a combination of instruments and tools that form a data acquisition system (DAQ or DAS). The DAS samples the environmental signals and transforms these to machine-readable signals, while the software processes the acquired data for storage or presentation.

There are three components required for data acquisition:

  • Sensors that are able to capture environmental analog signals like temperature, pressure, light or sound
  • Signal-conditioning circuitry that normalizes captured signals; noise reducers and amplifiers are good examples
  • Analog-to-digital converter that converts the conditioned signals into digital data

Specific DAQs are often created for specific physical properties. For example, there are dedicated systems for measuring just temperature or just pressure, but smaller dedicated data acquisition systems can be integrated into a bigger system via software by simply taking the data gathered by those individual systems and presenting them to the user.

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Margaret Rouse

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.