We interact daily with many devices: cell phones, computers, notebooks, wearables, and smart personal assistants. At the same time, the advance of concepts such as the connected home, industry 4.0, or smart cities, to name just a few, increased the number of connected “things,” many of which are not activated by humans but act on their own, such as sensors.

As a result, the Internet of Things (or IoT) testing market is experiencing massive growth. A study by Mordor Intelligence claims that the little more than USD 1.1 billion invested in this area during 2020 will become no less than USD 6 billion in 2026, a figure that could even be higher considering the digital acceleration experienced in recent years.

These connected elements play a critical role: they are vital to guaranteeing business continuity (for example, in industries where they are used to check the correct operation of manufacturing machines, to prevent equipment failures that could contaminate the environment, or to ensure the traceability of certain raw materials) and they are already used in industries such as healthcare, such as remote surgeries. The conclusion? They can’t fail.

A tour through the “dos” and “don’ts”

IoT testing starts with a pilot test that should be mandatory: it is the one that ensures that the device does what it is supposed to do. Then, the compliance analysis will have to be done. In regulated industries, such as finance or healthcare, the device must comply with all current regulations and treat the data as specified in these regulatory frameworks. The third point to evaluate is upgradeability: the device must be able to accept upgrades, bug fixes, and improvements without affecting its functionality.

There are three best practices for this testing type and some recommendations on what to avoid.

One of the most common mistakes is to assume that a feature or an entire piece of equipment works appropriately before testing it. While it depends on each project, the device should be tested when it is ready to be incorporated into the solution.

Another issue to avoid is that user acceptance testing is performed on the same test equipment and, if possible, by the Product Owner or the Business Analyst since the user’s perspective is likely to miss bugs.

In-depth testing

What is tested in an IoT device? First of all, usability. Not only in terms of user-friendliness but also in terms of response to extraordinary situations and environmental suitability to the environment for which it was developed or in which it will be used. If it has a button, it should not break easily. If it is wearable, it should not come off after some time. If it is directly connected to an electrical network, it must never receive a shock that could damage it. In short, all situations that could affect the equipment are evaluated.

It will also be necessary to check that the device handles connectivity smoothly, with no input delays, and with the ability to reconnect to the network if at any time the signal drops.

On the other hand, it must be ensured that it can resolve errors and continue functioning correctly. Then performance tests will be performed, including load and stress tests in the cloud (i.e., verifying that the device maintains a certain level of effectiveness when conditions are not favorable or when the number of users increases significantly).

Preventing headaches

It is necessary to understand that the device operates within the framework of a network infrastructure that must support the functionalities to avoid false errors appearing during the test period.

Challenges that are not common in other instances or testing models will arise, such as the development of negative tests can be very complex, which in many cases may lead to the mistake mentioned above of assuming that it works well.

Also, it is essential to ensure that the software and hardware are compatible with the latest trends and previous ones: screen resolutions, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi. Many times, the existing IT landscape where the device is going to be embedded has some legacy elements, and the device must be able to coexist in the environment.

IoT testing, in short, improves the user experience, prevents unexpected errors in the production phase, and ensures the proper functioning of increasingly business-critical solutions. And the bottom line: it provides peace of mind that everything is doing what it is supposed to be.