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DAQ is a broad term that includes a suite of different tools and technologies that are designed to accumulate data. DAQ systems generally consist of DAQ software and hardware along with sensors and actuators, and they generally require underlying network support for data communication between the data acquisition hardware and software.
The hardware typically consists of components in the form of external expansion cards. They can be connected to the computer through a communication interface such as a PCI or USB, or can be directly installed onto the motherboard.
The hardware is connected with an input device such as a 3-D scanner or analog-to-digital converter. The signal from the input device is sent to the hardware device/card, which processes and sends it to DAQ software, where it is recorded for further review and analysis.