The machine revolution, which so many books have spoken about and so many blockbusters depicted, happened quietly and gradually. We just looked around one day and realized that we live in the Internet of Things (IoT) universe.
People who have already witnessed some applications of IoT technologies in their everyday lives think about fitness bracelets, climate control systems in smart homes, or automated regulation of street lighting in smart cities.
Meanwhile, IoT has long become a daily reality in healthcare. Robots with constantly developing artificial intelligence make decisions on ordering goods to warehouses and are engaged in transcontinental logistics. IoT technology is continuously changing, acquiring new devices.
Requirements for the usability of individual objects and entire systems in this ever-changing universe are becoming a guarantee of commercial success. In addition, it is literally one of the conditions for our normal existence in the world where machines can often make decisions on an equal basis with people, and in some fields, based on artificial intelligence, they make even more accurate decisions.
The QA industry has been around for a long time. High-skilled experts, testing tools, and methods constantly improve. Nevertheless, the practice of successful QA companies, including TestFort IoT testing shows that Internet of Things testing most often requires fundamentally different knowledge, methods, and approaches than the usual QA processes used in software testing.
What is the specificity of Internet of Things testing?
Any IoT ecosystem functions in constant relationship with various devices, each of which may have its own communication protocols, architecture, and ideology. Thus, the following priorities come to the fore in testing applications for IoT:
- communication stability
Of course, the specifics of QA processes for IoT are far from exhausted by this.
Just take a look at a couple of numbers to get an idea of how deep and comprehensive knowledge and complex equipment techniques in dynamic testing of individual devices and complex IoT solutions require. The Internet of Things ecosystem consists of 7,027 Android-based device models and 56 iOS-based ones.
Add to this that only to communicate with each other they use such technologies (to name only the most common ones):
- RFID [Radio Frequency Code] tags and EPC [Electronic Product Code]:
- Z wave.
In addition to the well-known smart home control systems and multimedia entertainment content providers, let’s take a quick look at the not-so-obvious examples of Internet of Things devices.
- Cars. While they occupy a modest niche — 0.05% of all connected devices — the active development of Tesla, Ford, and Subaru IoT solutions is increasing daily.
- Management systems in agriculture. The variety of IoT applications in this area is simply fantastic: shepherd drones, John Deer smart tractors, weather, and soil monitoring systems.
- Swallowed sensors. Miniature pill-sized devices collect dynamic information about a patient’s health status and recommend drug regimens and other treatments.
- Smart contact lenses. Half-organic sensors from the Swiss developer Sensimed analyze microscopic changes in the condition of the eyes, signal the need for medical intervention, and even carry out some treatment.
The list of unique applications for IoT systems is literally endless. However, even from the above facts, it is clear how strikingly Internet of Things testing differs from the usual QA methods.
New technologies – new challenges
Actually, smart sensors combined into a common system have been known since the 80s. Suffice it to recall automatic production control systems or automated decision-making systems. However, at that time, each such complex existed in a relatively autonomous mode, which made it much more difficult for outsiders to penetrate into such systems.
Today, when the World Wide Web with its 5G speeds has essentially become an open system for numerous Internet of Things ecosystems, data protection, and general security issues are coming to the fore among the challenges faced by IoT testers.
Since the exchange of various data does not stop in the IoT ecosystem for a second, security considerations require encryption during transmission. Thus, another critical aspect of IoT testing is multiple verifications of the integrity of the transmitted information.
The importance of seamless communication in some areas where IoT devices are used cannot be overestimated. First of all, it concerns medicine. Therefore, another area of scrutiny for testers is the continuity of data transmission. Among other things, this implies autonomous operation in case of a temporary loss of communication, automatic correction of connection errors, or prompt notification of the user about the need for intervention.
A couple of words in conclusion
These and many other approaches that determine the general strategy and specific areas for testing IoT devices are often experimental and are born, one might say, on the table of testers.
Standards for QA procedures in the field of IoT are still being formed. But the general vector of development of this industry is clearly visible today.