IoT Testing Tutorial: What is, Process, Challenges & Tools
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IoT Testing – A New Age in Testing: Types, Challenges & More

In today’s 21st century, human beings have evolved for miles to make life simpler, better and faster. Mobile phones / human voice have replaced switches to control lights at home, we have stopped paying at kiosks to submit toll charges and do this via FastTags, and we have been monitoring our health status smartly using apps, turning on our vehicle remotely, and a lot more.

All of the above and much more is possible only with a term coined as IoT or the Internet of Things.

What is IoT?

IoT can be best described as a network of physical objects named ‘Things’ that are connected by sensors, software, and other technologies. IoT connects and exchanges data between devices and sensors broadly over the internet. This interconnection of things helps in the transfer of data over a network without the need for any human-to-human or human-to-computer interactions.

What are IoT Devices

IoT devices are hardware devices with sensors that typically transfer data over the internet and can be embedded in mobile devices, medical devices, and many more.

These IoT devices are categorized into three main categories: consumer, industrial, and enterprise.

In the consumer category, the IoT-enabled devices include smart TVs, Smart homes, Smartphones, smart speakers, smart cities’ devices, smart wearables, and appliances. The devices are designed to sense and respond to a person’s presence through the internet.

In the Industrial domain, the IoT devices are designed to be used in an industrial environment, where they monitor the whole process to run optimally. Broadly speaking, IoT devices are used for various applications including transmitting environmental data, delivering patient’s information and medical records, broadcasting insights into logistics transportation details, smart supply chain management, and more with just a click of a button.

Enterprise IoT devices are designed to maintain a facility or improve the operational efficiency of a business. For example, IoT-enabled devices can help in scheduling meetings by ensuring a smart room with smart features. 

There is a vast variety of enterprise IoT devices available like Smart Security, Smart Lock, Smart Lightning, Smart Thermostats, and more.

There is a huge impact of these IoT devices in various domains and for the successful operation of all these highly interconnected IoT devices, effective testing to ensure their flawless functioning is crucial.

Technology Used in IoT Devices

Just as there are many different IoT applications, there are many different wireless technologies that have their own strengths, weaknesses and tradeoffs in terms of power consumption, range, bandwidth, QoS, security and network management. Since IoT is a widely diverse and multifaceted realm, all these need to be considered when choosing connected devices and connectivity for a particular IoT application.

IoT Tech #1 – RFID Tags

RFID (Radio Frequency Identification technology) is an integral part of IoT devices used to identify, track, record or control objects automatically by capturing data about that object that has been stored in a small microchip called tags attached to that object.

IoT Tech #2 –NFC (Near Field Communication)

NFC (Near Field Communication) is rooted in Radio Frequency Identification technology (RFID) that enables simple and safe two-way interaction between electronic devices. NFC uses electromagnetic fields to encode and read information between devices.

It is mostly used for contactless payment transactions on Smartphones, connecting with other electronic devices, sharing business cards, downloading digital content, etc.

IoT Tech #3 – Bluetooth and BLE

Defined in the category of Wireless Personal Area Networks, Bluetooth is the communication protocol of choice for IoT. Suitable for short-range communications, has the ability to connect disparate devices and industries.

The new version of Bluetooth BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy) is ideal for IoT applications as it allows IoT devices to connect in as fast as six milliseconds. This saves energy by keeping devices in sleep mode until they are connected.

Nowadays, Bluetooth and BLE are widely used in the fitness and medical wearables (smartwatches and health bands) as well as in Smart homes (Smart door locks).

IoT Tech #4 – Wi-Fi

It is the most commonly used option to support broadband and narrowband IoT applications. When on a LAN (Local Area Network), it helps to transfer files, data and messages seamlessly.

What is IoT Testing?

The IoT industry is booming due to its ever-increasing applications and versatility in various industries.

According to Gartner, the number of IoT devices will increase to more than 20 billion by 2026. The increase in the number of these IoT devices has increased the need and scope of IoT testing to deliver better and faster service.

An effective IoT testing involves end-to-end testing of the IoT ecosystem to ensure that the entire IoT network can work collaboratively and deliver as expected. This testing process specifically requires real-world IoT testing and communication to ensure perfect harmony between hardware and software across connected networks. Hence, IoT QA Testing is important to identify underlying bugs and fix them quickly.

Benefits of IoT Testing

  • Provide best-in-class UX: IoT Testing ensures the end-to-end functionality of multiple devices across platforms (device, web, mobile) so that the end-users get best-in-class UX
  • Future-proof the business: Thorough validation and software testing of IoT-enabled applications ensure that enterprises can overcome their IoT testing challenges and successfully move forward in their digital transformation journey.
  • Accelerate Time-to-Market: IoT testing ensures faster time-to-market by leveraging an integrated test automation framework.

Challenges in IoT Testing

IoT is a key enabler of digital transformation and is revolutionizing the way businesses are run, regardless of industry or geography. Research from McKinsey Global Institute predicts that IoT could generate up to $11.1 trillion a year in economic value by 2025.

Due to innovation, engagement, and efficiency, IoT has given rise to new business models that can change the basis of competition. However, with the increase in the number of connected devices, the technology presents a number of challenges for delivery teams that must be foreseen or anticipated and potential solutions must be sought to solve them.

The intricately connected nature of the IoT ecosystems makes them vulnerable to a myriad of challenges including:

  • Issues with Network: Need to check for network configuration issues that may affect device performance.
  • Security Threats: Since IoT devices are vulnerable to security threats, it is critical to secure both the device and the network or cloud services to which they are connected. Identifying security loopholes and addressing them immediately is a major concern.
  • Lack of Standardization: Lack of standardization at all levels, including platforms, connectivity, standard business models, and application, makes it difficult to test every IoT device.
  • Inefficient Resources: In order to maximise the life of IoT devices, resources such as memory, processing power, bandwidth, battery life, etc., need to be tested under various scenarios or conditions.
  • Testing across Various Devices and Platforms: The IoT includes a plethora of new and different devices [iOS, Android, Windows, Linux], networks, cloud platforms (Azure IoT, IBM Watson, and AWS among others) and sensors that need to be checked regularly, which is almost impossible.
  • Issues with Communication Protocols: IoT systems use various communication protocols such as MQTT, XMPP, CoAP, and AMPQ among others, which need to be tested to make more reliable and secure communication between controllers and disparate devices.

Apart from the aforementioned challenges, there are various other painstaking challenges associated with IoT Testing and that can be anywhere from beginning to the end of the development process. We can overcome these challenges through a proper, well-structured IoT testing framework.

Types of Testing in IoT (Broad-based)

To ensure that each device performs all its functionalities efficiently, it is recommended to go through some of the testing procedures essential for IoT testing.

IoT Testing Type #1.  Functionality Testing

  • Functionality testing is important to determine whether the application behaves as it is intended.
  • Here we validate the software system as per the functional requirements/specifications.
  • This type of testing is required for sensors and the IoT apps connected and not necessary for the network and backend data center connections.

IoT Testing Type #2. Usability Testing

  • Most customers prefer IoT apps that perform seamlessly and are easy to use.
  • Some of the most used IoT apps like smart home, smart wearable, connected car, etc. have all been successful only because of their ease of use and their smooth performance.
  • Hence, usability testing is essential for the performance of these IoT apps.

IoT Testing Type #3. Compatibility Testing

  • There are many devices that can be connected through the IoT system. Every device can work on different platforms like Android, iOS, Windows, etc.
  • Each device has different software and hardware configuration. Therefore, the possible combinations are huge.
  • Thus, compatibility testing plays a very important role in evaluating whether the IoT device app operates smoothly across different platforms and browsers.

IoT Testing Type #4.  Pilot Testing

  • Only testing in the lab or a controlled environment ensures that the product/system works properly.
  • But, sometimes, it does not work best when exposed to real-time conditions/steps/scenarios.
  • During pilot testing, the system is exposed to a small number of users in the real field. These users work with the application and give feedback to the system.
  • These comments are of great use in making the application robust enough for deployment in production.

IoT Testing Type #5. Security Testing

  • IoT environments have users accessing large amounts of data, and therefore, enterprises must conduct security testing to eliminate vulnerabilities and maintain the integrity of the data.
  • Thus, it is important to examine various aspects of the system including authentication, data privacy controls, validating each user through encryption/decryption as part of security testing. 

IoT Testing Type #6.  Connectivity Testing

  • Connectivity testing is required to test whether the behavior of the device or application can support the various network connections and connection protocols on the IoT platform.
  • It also checked their performance in times of loss of connectivity.
  • These real-time scenarios build robustness of these IoT devices to ensure these IoT apps are checked for various connectivity issues to ensure that they perform well.

IoT Testing Type #7.  Scalability Testing

  • Scalability is critical to building an IoT test environment that includes testing all functional and non-functional use cases to determine whether the system is easy to scale to accommodate future upgrades.
  • It is used to measure the ability of an IoT app to support multiple concurrent users while maintaining the same level of performance.

IoT Testing Tools

IoT Testing Software

1.   Shodan

Shodan is an IoT testing tool to discover which of your devices is connected to the Internet. In essence, it is a search engine that tracks Internet-connected devices and if Internet-facing devices are not found to be secure, Shodan can help cybersecurity experts protect individuals, enterprises, and even public utilities from cyber attacks.

2.   Wireshark

It is an Open source application used to sniff IoT traffic network behavior in the interface, source/destination host addresses, etc.

IoT Testing Hardware

3.   JTAG Dongle

 It is similar to a debugger in PC applications which helps in debugging the target platform code and shows the variables step by step.

4.   Digital Storage Oscilloscope

This is used to check various events with timestamps, glitches in power supply, and signal integrity checks among others.

5.   Software Defined Radio

This is used to emulate receivers and transmitters for a large range of wireless gateways.

Final Thoughts about IoT Testing

IoT has added a new level of digital intelligence to devices, thus, building smart and connected applications to support multiple aspects of customer services. In order to provide a better user experience, effective IoT testing is critical to ensure flawless functioning of the three IoT core components: equipment, communication (between devices), and data (which needs to be processed and analyzed).

A well-structured robust testing framework with proper test planning, unit testing, and integration testing can help in overcoming such an eclectic mix of challenges of IoT devices.

For more information on how IoT can drive innovation and outcomes, get in touch with us today and speak with one of our experts at Kilowott.

Author avatar
Leon Lawrence
The writer, straddles marketing, advertising, and content, with a love for crafting brand narratives, agnostic of media or platform. With nearly a decade of experience in leading the marketing function at Seynse Tech - a Fintech startup & Synapse Communications, Leon is a seasoned marketer/tech nerd, having created communication for diverse industry verticals; from Fintech, BFSI, Tech Startups, and pretty much everything in between. When not working, he shares a glass a bourbon or two, couched on a bean bag playing FPS video games or watching the latest episode of Better Call Saul with family.
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