IoT testing covers a lot of ground. Not only is there software that needs to be tested, but there are also devices and networks that need to be included in testing too. The Internet of Things is truly expansive, and this can make accurately testing every facet of it difficult. However, testing is necessary in order to ensure that security and functionality are operating at optimal levels.
IoT testing can seem daunting because of its sheer size, but if you break your testing into manageable pieces, it does not have to be an overwhelming process. In this post, we will look at some of the common facets of the Internet of Things that you should be testing regularly, and we will also cover some of the common challenges that you may encounter during IoT testing.
IoT Testing: The Process
We understand that IoT networks are typically very large, with a lot of connected devices and different software solutions all contributing to the overall functionality of the system. Testing to ensure a good User Experience, security, and system functionality does not have to be an overwhelming task if you break your testing up into more manageable pieces.
These are the main areas of your IoT system you should be testing:
IoT testing one piece at a time is a far more manageable approach than trying to tackle the entire network at once.
When we think about testing the usability of an IoT system, the first order of business is ensuring that all of the devices that are being used by the network function properly. Commonly, IoT architecture will include a number of small, low-power devices like sensors that are placed in strategic locations to gather key data.
Larger devices such as manufacturing equipment and refrigerators can also be a part of an IoT network too. In order for your organization to realize the true value of the Internet of Things, you need to ensure the usability of all connected devices.
Usability testing also needs to cover the actual ways your system functions across devices too. For example, you should be checking to see how data is displayed, processed, and how communications are handled between devices and the network.
With the exception of usability, security is probably the most important facet of IoT testing that you need to be aware of. Since IoT solutions can be so large and include so many devices, security, especially in data-sensitive fields like healthcare, needs to be a priority. When data is moving between devices over a large network, there is always the possibility that the data could be accessed or read during transfer.
Security testing needs to focus on two key elements. The first focus should be the data itself. Data should be encrypted or protected in some fashion while it is being transferred between devices.
The second focus of security testing should be the User Interface. Anywhere where users can access a device or data, there should be password protection at the very least. Unauthorized users need to be kept from accessing critical information.
General security testing should also be performed on all software being used as well. This ensures that there are no bugs or errors in the software that can be exploited to gain access to important data.
The Internet of Things relies on connectivity in order to function properly. Testing this facet of the IoT should partially focus on how seamlessly data is transferred between devices, but it should also focus on how job tasks are received and processed by devices as well. Without a solid connection, the Internet of Things cannot provide the value it was designed to.
With any IoT app or network, it is not sufficient merely to test how well devices connect. Connectivity testing is also about planning for the event when connectivity fails. If the IoT system goes offline, will there be a critical failure? There needs to be a connectivity plan in the event that the network goes down. This is especially important in critical sectors like healthcare. A missed notification or disabled sensor could cost a patient their life.
There also needs to be a plan in place for data storage if the system goes down for any period of time. Once the system goes back online, the data from the offline period needs to get propagated.
The final major aspect of the Internet of Things that needs to be thoroughly tested is network and device performance. Is your system scalable, and is it capable of handling the number of devices you are using and the data you are gathering?
Your IoT system should perform the same no matter how many devices you add. Ensuring this is the case is the job of performance testers. Important things to keep an eye on are device temperature and power and system usage levels.
Whether you are a manufacturer with an entire warehouse full of devices online or a hospital with hundreds of sensors and connected devices, ensuring IoT performance is important in order to reap the benefits this technology provides. You should be continuously testing and monitoring your IoT network’s performance levels.
IoT Testing: The Challenges
When it comes to IoT testing, there are a number of different challenges that testers face. However, the main challenges in testing IoT are:
- Hardware/software compatibility
- User Interface
- Data speed and volume
Typical IoT systems combine various hardware and software components. This presents a major challenge because the hardware and software are not only dependent on one another but also on the environment, network, and more.
Testers can thoroughly test every device and software solution, but an update to one device or software component can complicate or disable communications or compatibility with other devices and software.
Real-time, or near real-time, communication is essential in IoT applications. When hardware and software are integrated, not only do security issues arise, but there are also compatibility and upgrade challenges testers must face.
A diligent IoT testing strategy is the best way to overcome the challenges presented by compatibility issues.
The User Interface experience is one of the most important aspects of IoT. Today’s tech ecosystem is full of devices. While testing for the most commonly used devices is possible, it is nearly impossible to thoroughly test for every possible device that could be used. There is a strong possibility that the User Interface will be accessed by a device that was not tested.
This happens for a number of different reasons, but the most common is that the device is older, and either the tester does not possess it, or there is no simulation available for it. For example, older models of the iPhone, which are nearly completely phased out of the consumer market, might not be tested for, but there might be a user out there that will be using an older device like this.
Data Speed and Volume
Fast communication is an important aspect of IoT devices. As a result, network status can seriously affect their performance. IoT devices suffer when they are paired with an overburdened WiFi channel or slow, inconsistent Internet connections.
The challenge this presents to testers is that devices need to be tested across a variety of possible network conditions to ensure that data is not lost during periods of poor connection. It will almost never be practical to create a network that possesses all possible network conditions.
Testers can use simulators to emulate different network conditions and the subsequent device responses to ensure that there are no data leaks. Testers must understand the IoT devices being used, how they respond under a variety of conditions, and know when they are not performing at the appropriate levels.
There are a lot of different things to consider when it comes to adequately testing your IoT systems. This is what makes the task so difficult at times. However, while IoT testing might seem overwhelming and too big a task, it can be simplified by breaking it down into separate sub-tasks.
If you need help organizing or implementing IoT testing, reach out to an app development partner. Trust the industry experience and technical expertise that a partner can bring to your organization. Don’t let IoT testing overwhelm your team.