The Internet of Things is one of those concepts that seemed like science fiction only a few decades ago but are totally real these days, just like self-driving cars or delivery robots. IoT devices surround us everywhere, and their presence is only becoming more ubiquitous. By 2025, there are projected to be over 75 billion connected IoT devices, and the global IoT revenue is expected to hit $96 billion the same year.

The IoT market is a fascinating example of the most advanced use of technology that benefits businesses, regular users, and even whole cities. However, behind every successful Internet of Things product, there are many rounds of testing and quality assurance. In this article, we will talk in detail about IoT testing: what it entails, how to do it the right way, which challenges you can face along the way, and why, despite all challenges, IoT QA is still a critical aspect of creating Internet of Things products.

What is an IoT device?

IoT, or the Internet of Things, refers to physical devices that are equipped with various sensors and can connect to other devices via a communication network. The IoT technology combines all the available components into a system that helps make fast and effective decisions based on real-time data.

IoT is the most common term used to address this group of devices. Still, there has been a lot of discussion in the tech community about whether it’s the right term to use because the internet is only one way for an IoT device to connect to other devices and transfer information.

Where are IoT devices used?

The IoT technology has hundreds of potential applications, and this number is only growing by the year. We can divide all the possible uses of IoT devices into two categories: business and personal.

Business, or professional uses of the IoT technology, can include a variety of applications in enterprise management, agriculture, and the creation of the smart city environment. Personal uses, on the other hand, typically involve home security, smart home technology, and healthcare, although the latter stands at the intersection of professional and personal uses.

What is IoT testing?

The Internet of Things testing is an accumulation of efforts to ensure the quality of an IoT solution. This can include a variety of testing types, methods, and tools. Typically, IoT QA consists of checking the functionality, performance, UX, security, and network connectivity of an IoT device and the infrastructure surrounding it.

“Testing IoT products is more challenging than testing a regular software product simply because most solutions need to be tested completely from scratch. While there are plenty of approaches, scenarios, and toolsets for testing a mobile or a web application, testing each IoT product requires a completely different strategy that usually cannot be used for another solution.”

Andrii Nikitenko, Head of Operations at TestFort

What needs to be tested in an IoT device

IoT devices are a unique combination of hardware and software, and the hardware and software in question are usually absolutely unique. This is why two IoT QA strategies are never the same. At the same time, an IoT device can be broken down into several different layers that need to be tested both individually and as a system. Here are those layers, or, as it’s commonly referred to, the IoT testing framework.

Device layer

This is the layer of an IoT product that is mostly physical and therefore requires IoT testing experts with both hardware and software testing expertise. This layer typically includes various sensors, actuators, and control elements, as well as the firmware that is responsible for its correct operation. It’s worth noting that this part of an IoT solution often performs in challenging environments that need to be accounted for and simulated in the testing process.

Connectivity layer

This layer is responsible for transferring the data between the device layer and the remaining layers. Depending on the specifics of the product and its architecture, IoT testing on the connectivity layer may deal with gateways, connectivity protocols, and network communications. This is one of the most challenging layers to test because of the endless variability of settings and protocols.