In an increasingly tech-driven world, the Internet of Things holds a special place. It helps to connect devices and establish communication among them through the use of embedded software. According to Statista, the global revenue projection for IoT devices in 2021 will be worth 520 billion USD. This exemplifies how the Internet of Things is slowly but steadily taking the digital world by storm and is capable of adding economic value to diverse markets. At the core of such devices are the sensors with embedded software that help to automate processes, connect domains, and deliver superior user experiences. The terms like smart homes and smart cities are no longer in the realm of fiction but a reality where data mined from myriad sensors are processed to perform specific activities for delivering great user experiences.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is a network of connected devices through sensors or embedded technologies that interact with the external and internal environment to arrive at intelligent decisions. The IoT ecosystem comprises three core components:
Things: The real-world physical objects or devices containing sensors and embedded software to interact or communicate with the external environment.
Communication: The networking component allowing communication between IoT devices and the external environment comprises protocols. 4G for LAN, Wi-Fi for LAN, and Zigbee, BLE, and ANT+ for PAN.
Computing: It is executed on a computer or mobile device at two levels – to take intelligent decisions within the ecosystem and to create a vital link for data analysis. By analyzing mined data, the computing component makes intelligent decisions possible.
A real-life example related to the three components is the car’s navigation system. Here, the ‘thing’ is the actual hardware present in the console, which ‘communicates’ with satellite readings to ‘compute’ and deliver data for the driver to take notice.
Since the IoT ecosystem can have real-time implications for individuals, enterprises, and entities, IoT device testing should be accorded top priority. The critical role of the Internet of Things QA testing is based on validating the software and hardware components and checking if the transmitted data leads to real-time intelligence. Let us understand why it is important to apply QA to the IoT ecosystem?
Why is IoT testing critical?
The Internet of Things ecosystem comprises components that communicate among each other to generate intelligent outcomes. To ensure its success, a proper IoT testing approach should be considered. The reasons why testing for IoT devices are critical is mentioned below:
Compatibility of hardware and software: In the IoT device testing process, interactions between the physical object and the embedded software are validated for specific outcomes. All components of the IoT ecosystem are tested to check if cloud connectivity, interface, the flow of data, and much more, work together to deliver quality outcomes.
Interaction between user and device: Here, two types of standards are validated – market-driven and the one instituted by regulatory bodies. The former is checked based on user feedback, performance, and reliability while the latter is checked if the IoT devices to be released comply with the established regulatory protocols.
Interoperability across domains: In this type of testing, the interaction among devices and the digital environment is measured. The considerations for validation include encryption checks, hardware compatibility, and checking security standards. An IoT device may function well in an individual environment or setting but the same cannot be said with certainty when a number of such devices communicate among each other. This is done when their performance is monitored across domains.
Security testing: IoT devices transmit voluminous data through a common network. If any vulnerability exists at any point in the value chain, hackers or cybercriminals can exploit it to gain access to sensitive data. No wonder security testing is critical to ensure that all devices in the network are protected from threat actors. In IoT security testing, issues like data leakage, lack of encryption, or monitoring data packets are checked to make the IoT ecosystem secure.
The inevitability of IoT devices in driving digitization initiatives is undeniable. The success of technological advancements like AI, ML, data analytics, and others depends on the smooth functioning of IoT devices. However, these devices can face performance issues and/or security risks, which a proper IoT testing methodology can identify and address to the satisfaction of regulatory authorities, stakeholders, and end-users.