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Automation Testing in the Era of IoT: Challenges and Opportunities

Written by quickpwn

The diversification of devices has played a critical role in shaping modern application testing practices and trends. This is because the developers not only have to guarantee the compatibility of their application on all these devices but also ensure optimal user satisfaction on these devices. Some of the most popular modern devices include desktops, smartphones, tablets, and even IoT devices. To implement the testing processes on all these devices, the developers can integrate advanced testing processes like automation testing, cross-browser testing, and regression testing. The inclusion of quality assurance testing also helps verify the proper functioning of all the user interface elements.

With this article, we are going to understand how app developers can integrate automation testing in the modern generation of IoT devices. We will also take a brief look at some of the most common challenges and opportunities that the developers will encounter during this process.

What are IoT Devices

The term IoT stands for Internet-on-Things. We can define them as physical gadgets or objects that have software integrations, sensors, and other technologies to connect and exchange data over the Internet. We can consider these devices as crucial parts of the interconnected network that forms the IoT ecosystem. In the modern generation, these devices are found in various forms and serve multiple purposes across different industries. Let us go through the examples of some of the most commonly found IoT devices in the present generation:

  • Smart Home Devices: Under the smart home category, IoT devices come in various shapes and sizes including thermostats, smart speakers like Amazon Echo or Google Home, security cameras, smart lights, and even connected appliances like refrigerators or washing machines. Using these devices, users can integrate the Internet and modern technology into their daily lives.
  • Industrial IoT Devices: Modern manufacturing plants use multiple controllers and sensors to integrate smart production technologies to improve the productivity and efficiency of the development and manufacturing plant. Other examples include industrial equipment to monitor performance, optimize operations, and manage the inventory for the business.
  • Wearable Technology: Smartwatches, health monitoring devices, and fitness trackers have become one of the most integral inclusions in our daily lives. They provide vital information about our lifestyle, workout schedules, and health metrics. Using this data, we can understand how we can improve our lifestyle to lead a healthy life.
  • Connected Vehicles: Modern cars, trucks, and other vehicles are equipped with multiple sensors and connectivity features for better operations and improved safety. Some of the additional features in these vehicles include diagnostics, communication with other vehicles, and infrastructure along with improved navigation.

Reasons to Implement Automation Testing on IoT Devices

As we already mentioned earlier, IoT devices come in multiple shapes and sizes. So, it becomes almost impossible for the developers to verify the functioning of their applications on these devices manually. Instead, they can integrate automation testing to initiate thousands of different testing combinations on multiple devices at the same time. Let us go through some of the most compelling reasons for implementing automation testing on IoT devices:

  • Speed and Efficiency: Since automation testing allows the developers to execute the test cases using pre-determined parameters, it massively helps to boost the speed and efficiency of the testing environment. Moreover, while using automation testing, the app developers can integrate parallel testing to initiate thousands of different test instances on different machines and combinations at the same time. So, the developers can implement rapid iterations and faster time to market while working on IoT devices.
  • Improved Test Scalability: The developers must remember that there are thousands of devices available under the IoT ecosystem. So, the execution of manual testing becomes almost impractical in this regard. On the other hand, automation testing allows the execution of test cases across multiple devices for improved comprehensive coverage and scalability. Moreover while using automation testing, the developers can ensure that there are dedicated test instances for verifying the performance of all the elements present on the app.
  • Testing Accuracy and Consistency: The critical functions under automation testing do not rely on the involvement of human testers. So, there are very less possibilities for errors due to human involvement. This process also helps to accurately detect issues across different device combinations and use case scenarios.
  • Improved Cost-Effectiveness: While using automation testing for verifying the performance of applications on IoT devices, app developers can reuse almost 60% of the existing test data. Moreover, automation testing also eliminates the requirements of setting up and maintaining a human testing team. Combining both these processes, we can easily say that automation testing helps to massively save a lot of financial resources during the test execution process.
  • Handling the Testing Complexity: Modern applications consist of a complex architecture that involves the proper execution of thousands of different elements. In case the companies are using complete manual test cases to verify the functioning of these architectures, there are huge possibilities of bugs or unnoticed errors. Whereas, automation testing minimizes the need for such external efforts and optimizes the testing process.
  • Implementation of Regression Testing: It is a common practice for modern application developers to roll out subsequent updates to the app architecture for implementing new features or security corrections. However, a common phenomenon in this process is that new elements can harm the functioning of the existing elements. In such cases, the developers will receive errors like false positives and false negatives. Using automation testing, the system can automatically initiate regression testing after it detects any changes in the source code to ensure the stability of the app architecture.

Common Challenges and Opportunities for Automation Testing on IoT Devices

In the realm of IoT devices, automation testing offers both challenges and opportunities to the developers and testers. Let us go through some of the most common challenges and opportunities that the testers will encounter while executing automation testing on IoT devices:

Challenges

  • Diverse Ecosystem: Under the IoT ecosystem, there are multiple devices, platforms, protocols, and sensors. So, the implementation of test cases on these diverse elements is not only a complex but also a comprehensive process. Moreover, the developers and testers will also face multiple challenges in terms of device restrictions on outdated devices. For instance, if we use Amazon Echo as our comparison device, we can see that almost 70% of the users do not change their devices before 6 years.
  • Complexity in the Interactions: The developers have to perform the testing on IoT devices in many intricate ways. They also have to ensure that these devices communicate flawlessly considering multiple unstable scenarios and use cases. So, integrating all of these variables in the testing process will prove to be a massive challenge for the new automation testers and developers.
  • Concerns for Security: IoT devices store lots of sensitive user data for better accessibility and usability. However, from a developer’s point of view, it becomes a crucial challenge to ensure that these data are stored safely to maintain user privacy and data security. Moreover, various market studies also show that IoT devices are highly vulnerable to data leaks or third-party data access.
  • Compatibility and Scalability: As the IoT network continues to grow, the developers and testers will realize that the implementation of scalability in automation testing will become highly complex in the coming years. Ensuring compatibility across multiple operating systems, device versions, and protocols will add an extra layer of complexity to the development and testing process.
  • Execution of Real-Time Performance Testing: A critical survey of the IoT market will reveal that most IoT devices require real-time responses. So, while testing the performance of these devices, the developers must access them under variable load conditions and ensure responsiveness. Moreover, analyzing all these data in real-time will be an extra challenge for the automation testers and developers. It is also important to ensure the stability of the device when it is exposed to various forms of user interaction errors.

Opportunities

  • Execution of Cloud-Based Testing: Modern cloud platforms provide access to thousands of devices to execute real device testing using remote servers. The developers can access these devices from anywhere in the world and also execute the test cases on outdated devices. Moreover, AI-powered test orchestration and test execution platforms like LambdaTest also integrate dedicated features for IoT testing including real-time web testing, real-time mobile app testing, and inclusion of comprehensive test reports.
  • Advanced Testing Tools: The automation testing tools have also evolved to accommodate the needs of IoT devices. For instance, the developers can now use specialized frameworks and tools that allow the simulation of diverse device interactions and scenarios. Moreover, modern automation testing frameworks like Selenium, Cypress, and even Appium have included subsequent updates for compatibility with IoT devices.
  • AI and Machine Learning: The inclusion of artificial intelligence and machine learning can help developers predict multiple failure patterns and optimize test coverage while analyzing vast amounts of data generated by multiple IoT devices. The inclusion of all these parameters will also allow the developers to prepare their testing environment for any unforeseen circumstances that might arise during automated IoT testing.
  • Embracing IoT Standards: Adhering to all the standardized protocols and frameworks will help the automation testers simplify the testing process while working on IoT devices. They can also use standardized communication protocols for further simplifying the testing process and ensuring smooth execution of all the test cases.
  • Adoption of Shift-Left Approach: The automation testers can implement early test cases in the development cycle to identify and rectify issues sooner before they can transform into serious issues to the application architecture. It will also help them to massively reduce the debugging costs and quickly forward the application to the production phase. This testing approach is also commonly known as a shift left approach.
  • Integration of Continuous Testing and DevOps: By integrating automation testing with continuous deployment and continuous integration pipelines, developers can guarantee an efficient and rapid deployment of IoT solutions. This is because it helps them to perform the development and testing processes side by side for improved efficiency and accuracy.

The Bottom Line

The importance of automation testing in the IoT landscape is indispensable. This is because these devices come with a lot of complexity, diversity, and scale of interconnected devices. In this regard, automation testing provides multiple features for improved reliability, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness. So, all the applications on IoT devices can meet the stringent requirements of security, functionality, and improved performance. It is also important for the app developers to have a clear idea about the application expectations and the target audience. This will help them to introduce additional parameters for further improving the effectiveness of the testing process.

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