Then and Now
DAQs are control systems, mostly used in the Industries, to gather data from sensors through transducers and instruments placed at remote locations and transmitting the data for a centralized control and monitoring. The DAQ Hardware and software market is driven by the rising potential of renewable energy and the high investment in infrastructure. Today, the term DAQ refers to computer based systems of analog/digital inputs or outputs. Though most systems are still based on PCs, platforms such as VME and PXI are becoming increasingly popular.
The technology has indeed moved towards low cost computers with the development of powerful data acquisition interfaces. The most common interfaces used to connect data acquisition hardware to PCs are PCI bus, Ethernet and USB Protocol. These are the traditional DAQ systems. The market today has standalone systems too with an embedded system in which the program is written and deployed in the DAQ.
The 1980s saw the PC-based DAQ in its nascence. In this era, more analog input and output devices came with a 12-bit resolution. The period saw some low speed products with better resolutions and high speed products with relatively lower resolutions. Today, DAQs offer a resolution of 16-bit, and sometimes even 24-bit. The high spend and low resolution products challenge the overall performance of the digital oscilloscopes in the lower end.
The new age technology of Ethernet has undoubtedly caused a spurt of growth in the confidence of interoperability and integration. Furthermore, the future sees promise in the Modular DAQ Systems and Paperless Chart Recorders. The key is to enable savvier suppliers to grab the best opportunities of the market.