Friday, 6 June 2014

Advanced Hand Held Data Logger Now Available

A hand-held data logger (or counter) is a device which is used to manually record vehicle data relating to road junctions, pedestrian movements and carry out other survey tasks.  Our system is in fact in no way limited to traffic data collection, and there may be hundreds of uses for it. However, this is one industry where I think it may prove popular over time.

Using a rugged weatherproof tablet PC we've had customised for us as the base unit, DataDevil has developed a system which replaces old-fashioned digital hand-held data loggers such as these, with something more affordable, and much more flexible.  The data recorded is accessed centrally, and very conveniently using the web-based control panel.

Because touch-screen interfaces provide no tactile feedback we were initially concerned about data quality, but trials with our custom acrylic overlay demonstrated excellent count accuracy is possible.

This overlay can also be easily removed when setting up a counter or when using the unit for a non-counting task such as a registration survey for example.  The installed software currently only supports counting and simple event recording tasks, but we intend to develop software for undertaking registration (such as parking) surveys and other survey types over the next few months.

To list some of the main advantages that our system offers over those of our competitors:
  1. Each event is recorded with a time-stamp with one second accuracy.  If grouping the data is required, it can instantly be carried out later using the web-based control panel to create reports for 1, 5, 15 or 60 minute time slices.
  2. Units can be configured for any number of surveys happening any time in the next 28 days.
  3. All units can be set up using just one device.  You set up a survey task for each counter using any one of the counters, and the others can instantly download their appropriate settings. 
  4. Data can be instantly sent to the DataDevil server using WiFi or the 3G mobile network. This can happen at any time where there is a connection making data instantly available after a survey if required.
  5. Data from all counters, and across all survey dates can be exported either separately, or combined into a single Excel workbook.
  6. Users can be shown customised information about the survey task they are undertaking within the device, meaning that in many cases, printed instructions are not necessary.  A terms screen, location map, vehicle class images and turning movement identification maps are all supported.
You can see from the above, that we've given this a lot of thought, and the software is in a different class from the existing tally counter apps available in Google Play.  However, it is also available in Google Play, as an app that which you can install on most Android tablet PCs.

I hope to write more about how our clients are using the system in future posts, but for now please have a look at the short video illustration.  I think this gives a better overview than words can.

For more information, please visit the website.


For those who are interested, this software was implemented in Python and Java with the Kivy framework, and I expect to be using this productive combination for several more projects in the coming months.  The back-end server currently also uses Python, although I may move towards Node.js and something like MongoDB in future, if there proves to be significant demand for real-time data collection/analysis.

Finally - apologies for the dark demo video.  I found it surprisingly hard to film the tablet screen effectively, but wanted to accurately show the responsiveness of the software running on the actual tablet, so I didn't use a PC based Android emulator like many app demos do.  If anyone knows how I can get a better video result, I'd be pleased to hear from you?  Perhaps I just need a better camera!