The Internet of Things has become a top-trending technology — the supply and demand for IoT solutions are higher than ever. Still, that’s just the beginning.
If in 2019 the number of connected IoT devices was over 7,74 billion, then by 2030, according to the most conservative estimates, there will be 25,44 billion. And that figure will grow even higher if we can address IoT solutions security and interoperability issues.
The more devices connect to the Internet of Things, the more important it is to keep the system effective and safe. However, traditional quality assurance services methods are no longer sufficient. Many devices require early testing, especially those undergoing continuous integration.
Since Relevant is an IoT expert and seasoned IoT software development company, we will explain the concept of IoT testing and why it is one of the most significant steps in an IoT project deployment.
Table of Contents
The Internet of Things comprises three key components – devices, communications, and computing. Devices are things or physical objects connected to the Internet. The second component is communication, which is carried out via Wi-Fi or satellites and cellular services and is very important to keep the entire system working.
The third component is computation, which is done in a central location on the server and allows the system to run efficiently. An IoT application helps integrate all three elements for intelligent decision-making.
However, the heterogeneity of underlying devices and communication technologies and the need for interoperability at different levels – from communication and seamless integration of devices to the interaction of data generated by IoT resources- hinder the implementation of common IoT solutions globally.
Because the IoT is a network that communicates in real-time, performance and security issues in any part of it can negatively affect the performance of the rest of the network. One node compromised by a cyberattack can harm others. Therefore, you must detect all weak points before the product reaches consumers.
That’s what IoT testing is for – a series of QA tests designed to validate functionality, performance, and security, in which all devices take part, regardless of their shape, size and location.
Since the IoT is a fragmented system, there are certain difficulties associated with the testing process. These can be eliminated by setting up large test teams to examine all components for reliability across multiple platforms and devices.
In theory, testing IoT solutions is similar to testing other software products; in reality, it has some distinctive peculiarities. Test types fall into two basic categories, which include separate subcategories.
As you might guess from the name, it involves checking how various functional aspects work. This group includes, for example:
It focuses on aspects such as performance, reliability, security. In this category, we can define the following types:
There are up to 40 types of testing in total. Let’s inspect the most used options for the Internet of Things in more detail.
Since IoT systems are built after multiple hardware and software configurations, the crucial phase of IoT testing should begin with running compatibility tests. This process typically involves testing various devices, browsers, operating systems, and communication modes to ensure maximum compatibility.
It determines whether a target product that implements a standard specification is compatible with other products that implement the exact specification. Each software component must recognize input from other programs, handle the workload associated with its role in the architecture, and provide accessible and valuable results.
Tip: Check the response time against a specific time and if the data sent is accurate.
The second phase of IoT software testing begins with validating the performance-related implementation. Some of the key factors that the performance testing process typically deals with include:
It helps you test the speed of IoT applications in data-intensive environments. Testers can simulate heavy loads using cloud platforms and create custom scripts to test the program in challenging environments.
Tip: Performance testing in IoT should be done at the network and gateway level (protocols such as MQTT, HTTP, CoAP), system-level (processing, analytics, database), and application level.
The third testing stage ensures uninterrupted connectivity even when users cannot have a complete set of data. The stability of the IoT system depends on how well the devices and the hub are connected. After all, if it loses the connection for at least one second, it can cause data inaccuracy and system instability. Flawless connectivity, besides data recovery, is one of two critical features of connectivity testing.
Tip: Don’t forget to register all gadgets taking part in the IoT test with the network. Send periodic ping messages to make sure the error persists. The device must save the data to the database, which syncs with the hub to restore the connection (device shadow in AWS).
Because the user receives data on IoT devices in real-time, IoT software interfaces need to be manageable and informative. Usability testing ensures that the end-user gets intuitive and straightforward software that harmoniously represents all the graphical elements.
Tip: Ensure the IoT application has all its features, accords to the specifications, and checks user experience (UX).
Because IoT software requires a lot of data for an application to function correctly, IoT security testing methodologies are essential to developing a robust IoT testing strategy. It includes three levels of testing.
Tip: Check for unauthorized access to the device, or make sure you can remotely delete data on jailbroken devices.
This type of user testing IoT requires testers to model realistic IoT test scenarios. That helps them prevent users from having problems with the final version of the IoT application and increases the chances of a successful release. It also helps business owners reduce bug fixing costs as glitches and usability issues are discovered during the beta phase.
By applying IoT testing, you can test IoT software at all stages of its development.
Testing for the Internet of Things requires a robust environment whose infrastructure depends on the devices involved in the IoT ecosystem. We can divide the IoT Testing Framework into the following levels:
The best IoT software testing strategies should foresee all the Internet of things testing challenges that can complicate the testing process for developers and QA engineers. Let’s look at the most important ones:
First, note the need to standardize the IoT environment at different levels, such as connectivity, communication protocols, platforms, and business models. But this is rarely the case.
Typically, each link in the IoT network has its hardware and software. That means that IoT testing services must include test cases for each type of hardware and software.
Tip: It is not entirely advisable to run all scripts at once. For effective testing, test cases of the most suitable combinations of integrations come to the market.
Because IoT devices that generate large amounts of data can be vulnerable to cybersecurity threats, they must systematically pass security testing in IoT. In this way, security loopholes can be identified and closed. For example, it is essential to use tools that validate password prompts and behavior on an IoT device upon initial user access.
Tip: Try to identify vulnerabilities in device architectures and firmware from the perspective of an attacker. For hints and tips, see our IoT penetration testing tutorial.
IoT devices depend on their connectivity to various cloud platforms, such as Azure IoT, AWS IoT, and others, to keep their IoT devices running smoothly. To ensure the usability of such devices, we must test them on these cloud platforms. In the entire IoT ecosystem, devices generate many structured and unstructured data, and we should check them for accuracy and integrity to get the expected results.
Tip: Since it is difficult to test every IoT device running different OS versions properly, it becomes necessary to create solutions for testing IoT devices. In addition, we will update IoT device versions besides software and firmware updates. Hence, testing each device across different platforms (OS, browsers, and cloud) ensures that the components run smoothly and efficiently.
In an IoT environment, devices use various real-time communication protocols, such as XMPP, AMPQ, MQTT, and CoAP. These protocols help to establish a connection between devices and also between devices and the server.
In addition, different components in an IoT system can use other communication protocols to communicate. And until we test these components over communication protocols, latent failures will continue to cause functional or security problems.
Sensors present in devices can run out of memory when loading requests that exceed a threshold. So, instead of directing these requests directly to sensors, they use an IoT gateway to balance load requests between components. IoT testing helps verify the load balance between elements and extends their lifespan.
Tip: Every IoT device needs to be tested over communication protocols to ensure they work efficiently, reliably, and securely.
Now get a look at the primary advantages of testing for business users of IoT solutions:
The main thing that differentiates IoT application testing from testing other types of software is that their relationship to external devices is fundamental. In this situation, the testing team must have specific knowledge of these devices and their capabilities.
Sometimes programmers have physical access to the required device, which facilitates the testing process. However, there are often situations when it is impossible to gain access to the device. As a result, testers have to use specialized software to simulate a specific environment and interaction.
The following are tools for performing a wide variety of IoT tests:
In addition, test cases and proprietary tools can improve the productivity, speed, and efficiency of QC execution.
Traditional testing methods, usually performed after product development, are time-consuming. In today’s fast-paced and highly competitive environment, this is unacceptable.
Early and frequent testing is the best way to detect and correct any potential problems early. That is especially important for IoT platforms, where continuous integration is the cornerstone of the technology. The idea is to include the stages of product testing in a schedule that runs in parallel with active development.
The technical characteristics of IoT devices and problems with the devices and their firmware can interfere with the normal operation of the application. When we discover such issues during testing, we share our findings with clients and recommend changes.
The client changes something in his device and sends us requirements for changing the software. These changes require repeating the regression testing step to ensure that the entire system functions as expected, even after upgrades.
Standard IoT testing involves the next stages:
We check such components:
The IoT system should only respond and function as required. In addition, each connected device must communicate adequately. To do this, we test:
Testing carried under the maximum conditions. In addition, IoT testers have saved the responses of the IoT system in the following formats:
We calculate the performance of an IoT system based on the following components:
In the end, we provide comprehensive reports on identified vulnerabilities, tools and methods used to exploit system flaws, and recommendations for eliminating identified risks.
And now, we will give you some valuable tips for testing smart device applications to avoid common pitfalls regarding their performance.
Because of the increased speed of R&D and the need to go to market first, it makes sense to automate some repetitive processes. However, automation requires not only the right technologies and tools but also highly qualified specialists. The best way is to automate only mature processes, particularly those that will provide a high return on investment.
By leveraging the power of cloud computing, you can simulate high loads on IoT applications and check how they react to large amounts of data. In addition, the method helps check the data amount sent by the IoT application to the hub, especially when the IoT devices are in a low power state. This point requires special attention from the QA side since it is an excellent indicator of the quality of IoT applications for users.
If the device has a built-in payment option, then it should be fast and secure. In the event of a loss of a wearable device, the user should lock the smart device through their mobile devices or IVR.
Testing IoT systems is not an easy task, and competence in this area matters. As an IoT software company, Relevant has this expertise and can test usability, security, performance, connectivity, and compatibility in:
We are flexible in choosing and changing the types of software testing within the project. Our QA team can uncover the perfectly hidden problems of your product. So, if your IT team lacks the resources to test an existing IoT system, or you need to develop and test a new IoT solution, Relevant is here to help.