Biological data acquisition and processing

Transforming signals from biological detectors into computer-readable data

The signals generated by the sensor or transducer need to be conditioned, analysed and processed before the data can be transmitted. It must also be translated into format that conforms to the OSI model and within it, the IEEE 802 protocol.

The data acquisition system is an electronic device that attaches directly to one or several detectors, sensors or transducers and ensures that the received signal is transformed into a stream of digital data and is readable by a mobile device using one of its integrated communication modes, typically Bluetooth, NFC or Wi-Fi.

Because the signals generated by most sensors are an electric signal with amplitude, response time and hysteresis related to the quantitative or qualitative presence of a compound or a biological activity, the data acquisition system is quite different from typical electronics in a computer. Indeed one of its principal jobs is to make the received signal readable by a computer.

Here are some important characteristics for a typical sensor interface:

  • Sampling frequency, the number of times a reading is taken in a given time period
  • Source impedance and sampling interval
  • Frequency filtering to eliminate biological or electrical interference
  • Sample and hold analogue to digital conversion

Depending on the type of system such devices can handle one or several different detection devices. The diagram below show a block diagram with typically used system components.

Communication standards for mobile software applications

Data acquisition and transmission system

A further transition in this process is to present the results in a human readable form of relevant information. This is typically the the job of the mobile or remotely accessible application software.

Detect molecules and forces

The signals processed in these devices come from detectors, sensors and other types of devices capable to measure chemical, biochemical or physiological ativities.

You may want to have a look again at some suitable sensing devices.

Transmit wirelessly

Thanks to the IEEE 802 standard today's mobile communications are versatile and reliable.

Proven, well established standards combined with existing and upcoming communications technology allow seamless integration with sensing devices.

Analyse and interpret

To be useful, the information processed in these devices needs to be converted into a meaningful format, analysed and interpreted.

This is the job of dedicated software applications, usually mobile apps, web or cloud based applications.

Use biosensors in real-life

The ultimate purpose of mobile sensing is of course to make diagnostics, screening and monitoring available for real-life purposes.

Find out more about laboratory tests and methods which can use this technology.