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How automation testing stays crucial to the future of Internet of Things (IoT)

automation testing in iot

From home appliances and cars to medical equipment, the Internet of Things (IoT) has allowed more and varying types of devices to connect remotely over networks. Quite naturally, the increasing demand for IoT devices is expected to significantly increase the scope of IoT testing as well.

As users become accustomed to connected devices, they will increasingly expect flawless functioning without any downtime. Problems in network connectivity or battery life have the potential to tank the most enterprising IoT startups. Businesses that ensure timely innovation and thorough IoT testing are likely to stay ahead of the competition and emerge as winners.

A diverse set of products entering the IoT market has brought many new challenges for IoT testing. Quality Assurance teams must follow a comprehensive test management strategy to deliver on quality standards and seamless operation.

Types of IoT Testing

  • Usability Testing: Devices must work seamlessly and enable pleasant, consistent user experience. Wearables, barbecue grills, cars, sensors for farm animals – as multiple devices in different industries are being connected through IoT, usability testing has nearly become the cornerstone of IoT testing.
  • Compatibility Testing: These are tons of devices that can be connected using numerous sensors, platforms, or microchips – the potential combinations are countless. The key is to find the best compatibility and to achieve that, compatibility testing involving an all-inclusive test matrix is vital.
  • Scalability Testing: Technology does not matter if it is not reliable or scalable. QA teams can use a simulation of sensors to build a test environment and test the reliability and scalability of IoT devices.
  • Data Testing: IoT is nothing if it does not enable the smooth exchange of data using wireless media and sensors. This underscores the critical nature of data integrity testing.
  • Authenticity Testing: With increasing reliance on IoT devices for storing and exchanging data, security testing for user authentication, data privacy checks, and encryption becomes extremely important.

Challenges in IoT Testing

  1. Numerous IoT platforms: Each IoT device has hardware and software that work together to integrate with other IoT devices. Then there are types of device hardware and software, further compounded by many versions of firmware and operating systems. For most manufacturers, this means it’s entirely unrealistic to test all possible combinations. Knowing which combinations to test is not easy.
  2. Multiple communication protocols: There are many different IoT communications protocols that link with controllers—and that link one device directly with another. Commonly, these include–
    – Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol (XMPP)
    – Message Queuing Telemetry Transport (MQTT)
    – Constrained Application Protocol (CoAP)
    Each protocol has its own specialization, and each one has some advantages as well as disadvantages. MQTT is very popular since it performs well in high-latency and low-bandwidth environments. Typically, it’s necessary to set an API layer atop the transport protocol to facilitate software interaction with the device.
  3. Device diversity: The increasing diversity of IoT devices, applications, APIs, and protocols demand incisive testing capabilities. A clear understanding of the architecture and correct configuration of test subjects, for instance, are important for testers.
  4. Changing vulnerabilities: IoT devices have high chances of vulnerability when it comes to security. So, it is critical that IoT test case designs factor in and test for scenarios of varying probabilities. Automation tests must account for access after password change, and device testers must ensure minimum password policy requirements, for instance.

As IoT grows rapidly, automated testing has emerged as more of a need rather than an alternative. QA teams will need time and expertise to handle dynamic aspects of subtle and varying IoT environments. Instead of looking at standard system functionality, software testers need to validate device security and operation in both usual and unusual situations.

However, test automation can add significant value and reduce time and effort in your IoT testing.

Benefits of Automation Testing in IoT

  1. Fast-tracked Testing
    • Handles lack of resources and bottlenecks by virtualizing IoT devices
    • Makes parallel test execution on several devices possible
    • Enables fast and continuous app testing
  1. Better Test Coverage
    • Affordable testing that supports various app versions, mobile devices and OS
    • Scalable virtual labs for a higher number of test flows
    • Higher ROI due to lesser UAT and production defects
    • Early prevention of defects in the project life cycle
  1. Faster Defect Fixes
    • Get instant feedback on changes in the code
    • Simplifies debugging with repeatable automated execution
    • Quickly resolves failing conditions
  1. Improved Delivery and Quality
    • Wider test coverage and lesser number of defects released to production
    • Reduced costs in complex test environment management
    • Minimized risk and rapid releases with earlier functional and load testing
    • Lesser time-to-market
  1. Improved Testing Productivity
    • Easily trace errors using runtime analysis combined with live tests
    • Helps generate repeatable, automated test scripts
    • Enables regression tests for system stability and continuous application enhancement
  1. Elimination of Hardware Resource Bottlenecks
    • Accurately simulates actual component behavior
    • Removes time and access constraints for dependent components and services
    • Enables parallel functional testing
    • Removes the need to access constrained business-critical setups, cloud components for testing, or third-party systems
  1. Cost-Effective, Practical Performance
    • Increases efficiency and test quality with zero manual operation and physical maintenance
    • Saves time and money in testing the performance of connected devices and application

Examples of IoT Test Automation Solution Providers

There are specialized IoT testing service providers and enterprises that deliver end-to-end QA solutions. Here’s a look at two portfolios of automation testing in IoT.

  • Enterprises like Infostretch help component and device manufacturers and solution providers with unique QA needs and automation testing for faster time-to-market. Best practices in test-driven development are used, along with algorithm validation and solutions like human variable simulations (like running), IoT protocol and location-based testing, and human-subject-based testing.
  • Automated testing platforms are available for niche IoT fields like automotive infotainment systems. Automotive equipment manufacturers continue to face increasing customer expectations in in-vehicle infotainment (IVI). Test platforms like Functionize help design test cases that cover all combinations of each normal use case. The test architecture also handles undefined or inconsistent inputs.

Best Practices for IoT Testing

While best practices will vary for different kinds of IoT testing, general principles can be drawn from common scenarios.

  • Gray box testing lets you design effective test cases for IoT. It also lets you learn more about the architecture, third-party hardware, and hardware device limitations.
  • Real-time operating systems are essential for scalability, connectivity, modularity, and security.
  • Strategic use of automation in IoT testing can maximize efficiency and reduce human error from manual testing.

IoT Test Equipment

Choosing the right equipment that supports IoT device testing for various application use cases is no easy task. You need to evaluate hardware QA needs for each stage – right from R&D to installation, maintenance and support.

Having access to the right test equipment affects test speed and coverage. One example is wireless (Wi-Fi) testing. Routing systems installed for wireless networks are verified and aligned for proper RF, reliability, and signaling performance. Service providers can plan, optimize, and benchmark entire networks using appropriate Wi-Fi test equipment.

It’s entirely possible that the IoT test equipment you need are not high-end or immensely expensive; talk to your team to understand the exact need and then shortlist test equipment.

Another option is to rent or lease test equipment, so that your business does not miss out on the latest tech in the market. IoT test equipment for device manufacturers are available for simulation and design, battery life testing, signal and power integrity testing, connectivity testing, network readiness and performance assessment, security and more.

Conclusion

IoT applications and devices promise tremendous advancements and benefits to both end-users and entire industries. However, handling the multi-layered complexities of IoT and staying ahead in connectivity, compatibility, interoperability, and security will be no mean task.

Businesses need to be alert and prepared as IoT devices will continue being exposed to different types of security risks. IoT testing will, therefore, assume increasing significance in the days ahead – the uninterrupted transmission of real-time data depends on QA that helps reduce time to market, mitigate risk, and meet ROI goals.

Read Next: IoT security comparison: Alibaba Cloud, AWS, Azure, Google Cloud, IBM Cloud

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