Of bikes, big data – and avionics tools

Feb. 25, 2019

A few years ago, I bought a bicycle as an inexpensive and eco-friendly way to get some exercise in the time normally filled by a slow, exhaust-spewing commute across Southern CA freeways.   It was my first bike since the Huffy BMX bike used on my paper route as a kid.  It didn’t take long before I was hooked and, as my fitness improved, I found myself taking longer and longer routes to-and-from the office.  Soon after, I made a not-so-inexpensive investment into a modern road bike and all the trimmings. 

What I’ve discovered is that, like nearly everything else, cycling has been revolutionized by the advent of big data.  Thanks to big data, mobile apps turn simple rides through the local foothills into reams of data: speed, route, altitude, riding partners, real-time comparisons to previous rides (to provide an extra boost of motivation on steep climbs), equipment-use tracking, lists of other cyclists that I pass on the road, not to mention real-time heart-rate and even pedaling power.   Seeing this information real-time allows me to optimize my ride and track performance over time.   

Big data everywhere

Big data is everywhere these days.  Very few areas of modern life are immune to the impact of big data. From internet search optimization to stock market picks and aircraft and automotive design, big data has revolutionized our understanding of how things work and given us new insight to make better, more timely decisions.  But it also highlights a crucial issue: actual improvement or change can be realized only if the data are presented at the right time in a format you can understand and related to something you can change.  A new industry has emerged just to help people sort through the mountains of data. 

A major obstacle to realizing the potential of big data is that all the data in the world is useless without the right tools to collect and process it into actionable information.  This is especially true in aircraft design.  Today’s flight systems and simulators generate mountains of data that comes back from sensors and devices distributed around the aircraft and connected via avionics buses like MIL-STD-1553 or ARINC 429.  These data are used for a broad range of purposes: from verifying design during the development phase to presenting critical information to the pilot during flight, from checking on status and performance of LRUs and sensors to monitoring the bus for errors.

Easier than ever

Abaco’s 1553 and ARINC APIs make it easier than ever to collect the critical data you need.  Additionally, our BusTools/1553 and BusTools/ARINC GUIs collect and display real-time data coming over the databus, whether you’re looking at data in individual messages or charting values over time.    These flexible and intuitive tools serve a wide variety of end users - from technicians on the flightline monitoring real-time data, to engineers in the lab simulating complex data patterns.

Speaking of mountains of data: there is a local ride that I’m still working up the courage and stamina to tackle.  It was a part of the recent Tour of California and, while I’ve ridden certain sections, I’m hoping to conquer the entire hill later this year.  Even if my results don’t match the pros, I look forward to seeing what the data reveal at the summit!

About the Author

Joshua Jensen | Product Mgr

Josh joined Abaco as product manager for our avionics product line in June 2018, having taken a year away from industry working with NGOs in Madagascar. Based at our Goleta, CA facility, he has responsibility for the commercialization and product roadmap for hardware and software platforms. He was previously with Kollmorgen and Danaher Motion in a range or technical, commercial and product management roles. Josh has a BS in Engineering Physics from Westmont College.

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