“The reason for this new-found importance is data sharing through the Internet. In addition to this, remote control of these devices for some applications demands a high degree of security,” he adds. Strictly following standards and protocols seems to be the best way to keep the data safe.
With all these developments, allowing for equipment to be configurable creates the much-needed flexibility for user applications. Varun Manwani, director, Sahasra Electronics, whose company is the exclusive distributor of Labjack products, says, “Devices from Labjack are plug-and-play that do not need a whole lot of time to understand, install and use. These work on open source software and are compatible with Visual Basic, C++ and others. These also come with Wi-Fi, universal serial bus (USB), RS232 and Ethernet connectivity so that consumers can use any protocol to connect their devices to the applicable environment.”
Captronics is looking at introducing global positioning system, Wi-Fi and wireless capabilities in their latest range of equipment. “Captronics now has radio frequency recording and playback signals,” says Mathews. The task does not end with just DAQ. It is important to make sure that the signal is de-modulated and intelligence is captured correctly.
FPGA: From luxury to necessity
Another noteworthy change is the acceptance of field-programmable gate arrays (FPGAs) and software code as integral parts of data acquisitions (DAQs). Many things that have so far been executed via hardware are now moving towards software. FPGAs introduced into data acquisition (DAQ) systems have added benefits for improved functionality. The trend has caught on so much today that these components are taken for granted.
Ushani feels that what works for FPGAs is the low-cost, low-power, high-density and mixed-signal capability, which, in turn, make the data-logging system more efficient and affordable.
The footprint is getting smaller, processing faster and the amount of data bigger, according to Mathews.
A new look, new expectations
Keeping all these in mind, there is a shift in the way DAQ systems are being built. Traditional factors such as accuracy, stability, resolution, speed and memory size are most important, but are no longer the distinguishing factors of these components, feels Ushani.
Manwani feels that it is most important to use technologically-advanced as well as in-production microcontrollers and other key components while designing a system.
Ushani explains that it is a product’s flexibility, ease of use, support for applications and data security that are key influencers for popular DAQ systems.
Do not leave out affordability, as this seems to win the way for the best equipment out there.
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Priya Ravindran was working as a technical journalist at EFY until recently
Shanosh Kumar is working as media consultant at EFY