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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.
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:
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.