What Is a Data Acquisition System?

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Data acquisition is a process of collecting signal samples to measure physical phenomena and converting the information to a computer program, according to National Instruments. This method can be used to assess voltage, temperature, sound, pressure or electrical current by means of sensors, application-specific hardware and programmable software. Measuring the physical properties of a light source or temperature begins with a sensor, which converts the measurements into electrical signals.

Traditionally, data acquisition consisted of measurements collected and recorded by technicians. With technological advances have come more accurate and specific ways of recording data, according to Omega.

Data acquisition software works in a variety of situations. One clinical application is mobile technology for collecting animal and human data on disease in remote regions such as Tanzania, Burundi and Zambia, according to the National Institutes of Health. In one field study, mobile phones were paired with short messaging services to simplify the task of collecting, documenting and processing data on specific diseases. The data were tied to geographic regions using GPS coordinates and photographs.

In other medical applications, a physician can be armed with an expert-knowledge data acquisition tool that accesses all available research on a given topic needed for treatment, according to IEEEXplore.