QA Process of IoT Products Testing: Before Market Launch
Want to learn more about product testing for IoT products? Check out this post to learn more about developing and testing your IoT product for the market.
Join the DZone community and get the full member experience.Join For Free
If you happen to build a testing team for an IoT product, the first thing you need is a helicopter view of the process. The stages we’ve identified are common in our practice and include action items we’ve commonly handled. Note that the stages are sequential, but they can overlap one another.
You Have a Product Plan, but no Actual IoT Product Yet
Define which QA team owns which layer of testing — all three layers are usually tested by separate test owners/teams:
- IoT device hardware testing
- IoT device firmware testing
- Software integration testing (IoT device <-> Mobile/Web app)
Firmware and Hardware QA teams create a full set of test cases based on your product plan. Make sure you take into account all the specifics of your hardware/firmware prototype. Here’s a small list of common tests there:
- Firmware installation/update testing
- Battery lifecycle testing (different modes of the device)
- Device pairing testing (incl. auto-detect features if supported)
- Calibration testing (verify if a user is able to adjust the accuracy of the sensors based on its usage. Example: touch ID calibration, heartbeat monitor placements, etc.)
- Upstream and downstream data sync with your controlling app or web service
- Recovery features testing, including internal ones to minimize the amount of bricked devices
- Device metrics analytics testing, i.e. scanning, connection, firmware statistics, and many more tests depending on the device’s specs
Test cases are reviewed by Development and Product teams. It is common practice to identify blind spots in your test analysis early. Common responsibility is a good way to make everyone on the team coordinated well later in the process.
Integration Software Is Not Fully Operational
The next stage includes a situation where you delivered the first hardware prototypes, firmware, and integration software, but it is not ready to be fully operational. Here's what you need to do:
- Create a mock application to test firmware outside of the IoT Hardware. Generally, we need to start testing firmware outside of the IoT hardware to minimize the amount of bricked devices at early stages.
- Software QA team tests the part of a firmware functionality required for installable firmware build.
- Whitebox automation of the firmware is an absolute must and is one of the cheapest strategies at this stage.
Exit criteria: Firmware QA testers sign off on the first installable — the (pre)-production — firmware version.
Delivery of First Installable Firmware
Next, we enter the delivery of the first installable firmware and onwards. Most of your IoT features are developed at this phase (the remaining ones are client app interactions):
- Test your firmware with the real hardware, instead of a mock application. First, try to help your developers fix the bugs with firmware restore, firmware over the air update, and the emergency resets in order to minimize the number of dead devices in your testing. After doing that, switch to other test cases.
- Perform extensive hardware testing — especially scenarios checking sensors’ accuracy, connectivity, device wearing pattern, mechanics.
- Perform new firmware features testing as they are iteratively developed.
- Perform app integration testing as developers start to ship you with this kind of functionality at this stage.
- Revise your test cases based on the implementation. Here’s the trick: when you would see how your hardware acts in the process of real usage, you will be likely disappointed multiple times, and the R and D department will provide more and more ways to improve that.
Exit criteria: Your IoT device is ready for the integration with controlling mobile or web apps running externally. Client apps have the functionality for special integration.
Application Integration Testing
1. Client application vertical QA team helps to test IoT integration on the app side
2. Iteratively test IoT device for hardware features
3. Iteratively test IoT device for firmware features
4. Test integrated part specifics (i.e. for mobile app working with IoT, device connection/disconnection, GPS/cell options, background mode, etc.)
Internal/External Field Testing
1. Launch an internal alpha test within the company. It is a common practice to simulate the real-user interaction. You can distribute the gear to your company employees — not limited to the QA team — and perform two types of testing:
a. Controlled exploratory execution (fixed time interval of random usage)
b. Running a short acceptance test via documented test cases. Most importantly, there is a data sensor accuracy, wearing pattern, and different types of sizing.
2. Launch an internal beta for selected pro-users. Those who are the direct target audience of the IoT device, like professional swimmers, runners, etc.. Same principles for the alpha test are applicable to this stage, but for the target audience, the test should be conducted in a big number of users of the target audience.
Exit criteria: IoT device is ready for external demo and public Beta release.
The activity pool here will contain the action items from the two previous stages, Application Integration Testing, and Internal/External Field Testing, and is aimed to polish the product and release of the product to the market.
In our next article, we will take a look at how to support the public release and what happens after it. Stay tuned!
Opinions expressed by DZone contributors are their own.