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The Need Of Functional Testing For Internet Of Things

By Author: Michael Wade
Total Articles: 65

The world of computer based technology has been evolving from one paradigm to another – from Internet and cloud computing to the newer and more exciting – the Internet of Things or IoT. The latest paradigm talks about connectivity of physical infrastructure – appliances, buildings, vehicles, security paraphernalia and others, whereby each part of the infrastructure is embedded with sensors, thermostats, and actuators to enable exchange of data among them. This automation of physical infrastructure brings immense benefits to the people. The benefits include savings on power, less exploitation of resources, optimisation of productivity etc.
As the Internet of Things works on a real time basis through communication between physical infrastructure and applications, any malfunction of a part of the chain can have undesirable implications for the whole automatic ecosystem. For example, a vehicle travelling on autopilot can misread the traffic signal leading to an accident or a thermostat malfunction can lead to overheating of the geyser and cause it to burn. To prevent such unwarranted situations, it is important that each unit is checked for its intended function and responsiveness. It can be said with a fair degree of certainty that the culmination of successful functional test automation services will have a positive impact on the overall IoT testing as well.

However, the process of Functional Test Automation faces a few challenges as well:
• The individual components, be it the subsystems or services, can be owned or manned by third party vendors, the absence of which during testing will not produce desired outcomes.
• When the building of components or services is yet to be completed, testing the whole chain for evaluating its function shall not yield desirable results.
• The whole testing process, even with a complete software functional test automation framework in place, is time consuming and cost intensive.
• As protocols for IoT are still evolving, any standardization of the same is not possible. This has a bearing on fixing responsibility when something goes wrong in the IoT ecosystem.
• The technology used in IoT, such as radio frequency identification, electronic product code, EPC information services uses different platforms and bandwidths. So, reconciling them under a single functional test automation framework remains a challenge.
The relevance of automated functional testing for Internet of Things cannot be underestimated, for it underpins the very success of this new paradigm.
• Without testing individual components for their responsiveness and desirability can lead to unintended consequences. For example – if the functioning of a thermostat in a refrigerator is not checked for quality, the desirable temperature inside shall not be maintained – leading to wastage of perishables and medicines that are kept inside.
• Apart from testing the functions of individual applications and physical objects, the technology and services on which they operate are also needed to be checked for addressing the responsiveness of the entire IoT ecosystem.

Conclusion
As users of Internet of Things expect the entire connected chain of the ecosystem to function effectively, the individual components and services of that chain are needed to be tested for their functionality, responsiveness and desired outcomes. Any slackness on the part of testers can lead to glitches that remain unidentified and therefore, unaddressed. This can lead to the whole automated ecosystem of IoT to collapse or worse, prove fatal.

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