Do you ever wish to switch off your light magically, without the need to get up from your bed when it is time to sleep? Most of us dream about that level of comfort and convenience. And the science being intelligent enough, is pretty successful in turning our luxury fantasies into reality. The lights are connected to the television or the washing machine is connected to the mobile phone or microwave is connected to the refrigerator. This sounds strange to our ears, but it certainly does not sound much strange to ‘The’ Internet which has actually made all this possible to a considerable extent. Yes, we are talking about the Internet of Things.
By definition, IoT devices are connected with wireless sensors that help in transmitting data to other devices or persons through the internet, without any manual commands. It is a connection between the physical and digital world through artificial intelligence. It is that time of the era when you just have to say “Google, switch on the lights” and your lights are on! Also, Apple has created a concept of ‘smart home’ where all the home appliances and objects are connected and controlled to your iPhone or iWatch and Siri will do all the chores for you.
This technology seems so interesting and fascinating, so with its growing need and demand, the need for testing IoT devices is increasing parallelly, so as to deliver faster, secure and a greater degree of control over our IoT devices.
Areas to be checked while performing IoT testing:
- Usability: Usability is the foremost requirement of any digital device. The characteristics of the devices should be congruent with the targeted use of that device. If it is designed for your home, it should be versatile enough to be used for all appliances, if it is designed for the education industry, it should be usable for all subjects and all levels of students.
- Security: No technology can be a success without assured security. Applications of IoT involves the transmission of huge data, so the security of your important data against any theft, loss or misuse must be checked thoroughly.
- Performance: Smooth performance is the key factor for the success of IoT. For instance, if a hotel has adopted this technology, the system should be able to work for all guests, all rooms, room service, and housekeeping departments too. The system should be as smooth for data of 100 guests as it was for data of 2 guests.
- Compatibility or Connectivity: Compatibility testing is mandatory in the case of the complex designing structures of IoT devices. The media through which IoT is working, viz., WiFi or Bluetooth should be properly tested for any defects. If you are connecting all objects through Bluetooth, make sure all devices support the required Bluetooth connection. Another example could be an Apple home, where all the appliances work through iOS so any non-iOS object would not connect to the system.
- Upgradability: Even our mobile applications need to be updated regularly for more user-friendliness, so is the case of IoT devices. The system needs to be checked for adaptability to upgradations at any point in time.
A few IoT testing methodologies
- End to end ecosystem methodology: All the interactive devices that are interconnected in an IoT system are collectively called the IoT ecosystem. This methodology focuses on testing of all the devices in the ecosystem instead of testing only the driving device.
- A network focused testing emphasizes on testing for any vulnerability or exposure through network paths of the IoT system, which may be ethernet or WiFi or Bluetooth.
- Control System focussed testing: Most of the IoT devices are managed by remotes or mobile applications. So this methodology focuses on testing these remote controls or applications to assure security during intercommunication of the control system and the device.
- Others: Other methodologies include radio-based testing, cloud focussed testing, IoT software testing, physical inspection, etc.
Hurdles in the way of effective IoT testing
- Webbed structure: IoT is a web of combinations of hardware, software, operating systems, internet protocols and much more. So the mere testing of software won’t do any justice. The need to check all the components make it a cumbersome task.
- Multi-platforms: Some of our devices are operated on Windows, some on iOs while others on Android or Bluetooth. Testing the IoT mechanism on all these platforms is a tedious activity. Interoperability testing is still a challenge.
- Hidden bugs: With so many constituents in an IoT system, there is a large scope for worms and bugs to hide which may secretly damage the security of the system.
- Resource issues: Battery of the devices is the only source of power so the battery life issue of all the objects is a hindrance in the uninterrupted working of IoT things.
- High-speed Network connectivity is another prerequisite of effective IoT testing, if the network connectivity is gone, the whole system goes out of order.
Summing it Up
With stuff like smartphones, smartwatches, smart TVs, smart cars, we are already on the way to a ‘smart era’ which would majorly be fueled by the Internet of Things. The IoT testing techniques are still evolving, so being an IoT tester is a big and challenging job but with the coming years of advancements, it is sure to get more interesting and exciting.