The testing process for both software and hardware was completely rocked when the mobile revolution began. Development teams and testers were forced to think about power sources, the implications of touch technology, bandwidth and dropped connections. But testing trends and recognised procedure are set to see further disruption – this time from the looming shadow of The Internet of Things (IoT) and its far reaching impact.
IoT is a unique phrase, obscure yet obvious sounding – it is clear to see why understanding its exact meaning is the first stumbling block in adopting this new technology to many people.
Put simply its connecting ‘things’ to the Internet that didn’t have the capacity for connection before – your thermostat, your washing machine – your watch being the most pertinent example, once a humble time piece, now a demi-smartphone, connecting you to your calendar, emails, social networks alongside being able to track fitness and daily vitals.
The IoT is becoming something that our society and wider world rely upon to optimise personal performance, enhance domestic life whilst reporting and collating huge volumes of data. With a task so big – it is essential these devices are tested adequately with processes that are fit-for-purpose whilst being mindful of this quickly moving technology.
As for all consumer electronics, leveraging a balance between functionality and intuitive usability is an important consideration – devices must adhere to specification whilst being usable to the average user without hefty training.
This becomes crucially important for connected, IoT devices as often they can be small and minimal for a key purpose – think of your Fitbit or Nest. Your Nest is collating, sending and receiving data readily across a number of functions, making the design consideration of how to integrate these services into a slick, small user interface can be challenging.
These gadgets are geared towards becoming our digital partners in life, work and play – this is only achievable through user-centric design. Carrying out user testing to validate interface and experience design is a core process.
Connectivity is the backbone of successful IoT integration – an obvious but central necessity. In cases where connections may be intermittent or unpredictable, ensuring data will be delivered and saved correctly when it is restored is vital.
Testing for this is important, and can be achieved by disabling connections during bench testing alongside scalability testing to guarantee connectivity in scenarios with a high number of user instances across numerous features.
According to studies conducted by Hewlett Packard, 70% of connected IoT devices are vulnerable to security breaks – with issues surrounding data encryption and password requirements.
Integrating security best practice into the development process as well as understanding expert knowledge on the subject is a necessary task with ever-growing IoT customer bases. Testing for security shortcomings through development and prior to release is the next step – it’s best not to wait for the headline or damning PR incident to uncover your product’s security shortcomings.
Depending on the purpose of the product, connecting to other devices in the connected homes of our future may be crucial. Having these devices available to test may be a challenging due to the sheer size of the market, but gathering a minimal reference set to test on is the next best option. Coordinating user testing during proto release stages goes further by arming your team with the analytics to understand which devices are the most frequently connected, guiding the direction of further testing.
The key to testing for IoT is being mindful of the developing market it sits in – any process must be regularly reviewed and kept attuned to changes, the rules are almost certainly set to evolve as we see the industry take a firmer hold.