May 3, 2011

The First Mixed Signal Oscilloscope On Apple iOS Devices

Over the Labour's day weekend, I discovered a new and innovative oscilloscope by a start-up company called Oscium. It transforms the Apple's ubiquitous iOS devices into a mixed signal oscilloscope. All you need is to download the iMSO app from the Apple AppStore and the iMSO-104 Mixed Signal Oscilloscope Hardware plug-in. 

The iMSO boasts an intuitive hand gesture interface such as:
  • Trigger Level - Setting the analog trigger level is as easy as touching the right side of the screen and swiping either up or down. Buttons and knobs on test equipment are going the way of the horse and buggy.  
  • Zooming – Changing the vertical & horizontal scales can be done by moving two fingers away from each other. And  to zoom out, simply pinch the screen moving two fingers toward each other.
  • Repositioning Channels - Both the analog and digital channels are also easy to reposition. Touch and swipe the desired channel to any position on the screen to customize your display.

Without the hardware, you still can try out the user interface by downloading the free iMSO app from the Apple AppStore, which it will run using simulated signals (sine, square, triangle, sawtooth). I have not tried the hardware plug-in but I have played around with the app on the iPhone. It's very simple and intuitive to use, although I did find it slightly more difficult to do vertical scale pinch on an iPhone due to screen size, unless I reposition the waveform to the vertical center. The app is also capable of doing 15 different automatic measurements (up to 4 simultaneous measurements for iPhone and 6 for iPad). With specifications of 5 MHz of analog bandwidth, 12 Msps sampling rate and 4 digital channels, it's more suitable for simple signals and low speed measurements. According to the user manual, using an iPad will give you slightly more features than iPhone or iPod.

Although I find that it's a very basic MSO, still in need of a lot of fine tunings and improvements, it is a very positive and exciting step toward a new breed of test equipment interface and form factor. It's certainly worth a try if you are looking for a very convenient and basic scope.

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