IoT Testing Tutorial (What is, Process, Challenges & Tools)


IoT (Internet of Things) is a network of devices, vehicles, buildings or other connected electronic devices. This connection eases the collection and exchange of data. An IoT system has the following parts −

  • Sensor
  • Application
  • Network
  • Backend; also known as data centre

IoT is a connection of embedded devices along with the internet infrastructure. It is an era of smart, connected products that communicate and transfer massive amount of data and upload it to cloud.

Examples of IoT

  • Wearable tech − Wearable gadgets like smart watches, Fitbit bands, Apple watches, etc. easily connect with mobile devices in synchronization. They collect necessary information such as health, heart rate monitoring, sleeping activity, etc. These devices display data, notifications from mobile devices on them.

  • Infrastructure and development − With an application like CitySense, we can easily collect outdoor lightning data. On the basis of these data, the street lights are controlled. There are other applications also to control traffic signals and parking in a cosmopolitan city.

  • Healthcare − In healthcare sector, IoT is used to monitor the health conditions of the patients. On the basis of the benchmarked data, the dose of medicine at different times in a day is controlled. Applications (e.g., UroSense) track and monitor the fluid levels in the patient, and initiate fluid transfer as per the needs. The data can be simultaneously transferred wirelessly to the stakeholders.

IoT Technologies

  • RFID (radio frequency identification) tags and EPC (electronic product code)

  • NFC (near field communication) − It is used for 2-way interaction between electronic devices. It is mainly used for smartphones and for contactless payment transactions.

  • Bluetooth − This technology is used in cases where short-range communication is well enough to solve the problem. Bluetooth is mostly used in wearable technologies.

  • Z-Wave − This low power radio frequency communication technology is used in home automation, light controlling, and so on.

  • WiFi − This technology is the most common choice for Internet of Things. WiFi along with a LAN (Local Area Network) helps transfer files, data and messages easily.

IoT Testing

IoT testing is a sub-category of testing to check IoT devices. We now need to provide better and faster services. There is a huge global demand to access, create, use and transfer data. The aim is to provide insight and control, of various interconnected devices. That is why IoT testing framework is so important.

Types of IoT Testing

IoT testing generally revolves around security, analytics, devices, networks, processors, operating systems, platforms and standards.

Usability Testing

Users use many devices of varying shape and form factors. Also, the perception varies from user to user. This is why investigating the usability of the system is very important in IoT testing. The usability of each device used in IoT must be determined. In healthcare. The tracking devices used must be portable so that they can be moved to different divisions. The equipment used should be smart enough to push notifications, error messages, warnings, etc. The system must log all the events occurring to provide clarity to the end users.

Compatibility Testing

A number of devices can be connected through the IoT system. Such devices have varying software configurations and hardware configurations. Therefore, there is a huge number of possible combinations, thereby making the compatibility of an IoT system important.

Compatibility testing is also important due to the complex architecture of the IoT system. Testing items like OS versions, browser types, devices’ generation, communication modes is vital for compatibility testing.

Reliability and Scalability Testing

Reliability and scalability of any IoT system is important for setting up the IoT testing environment that involves simulation by using virtualization tools and technologies.

Data Integrity Testing

Data integrity testing of an IoT system is important as it includes massive amount of data and its applications.

Security Testing

In an IoT environment, a large number of users try to access a massive amount of data. This is why it becomes important to determine user validation through authentication, possess data privacy controls as in security testing.

IoT is data-centric, i.e., all the devices, equipment, system, etc. operate based on the available data. While the data is getting transferred between devices, it can always be read or accessed. The data must be checked to determine if the data is protected/encrypted while it is getting transferred between devices.

Performance Testing

Performance testing is essential for developing a strategic approach to develop and implement the IoT testing plan. The chart below is the applications of the different types of testing for various IoT components.

IoT Testing TypesSensorApplicationNetworkBackend
Functional testingTrueTrueFalseFalse
Usability testingTrueTrueFalseFalse
Security testingTrueTrueTrueTrue
Performance testingFalseTrueTrueTrue
Compatibility testingTrueTrueFalseFalse
Services testingFalseTrueTrueTrue
Operational testingTrueTrueTrueTrue

IoT Testing Process

Test CategoriesSample Test Conditions
Components Validation
  • Hardware
  • Embedded software
  • Cloud infrastructure
  • Network connectivity
  • Third-party software
  • Sensor testing
  • Command testing
  • Data format testing
  • Robustness testing
  • Safety testing
Function Validation
  • Basic device testing
  • Testing of IoT devices
  • Error handling
  • Valid calculation
Conditioning Validation
  • Manual conditioning
  • Automated conditioning
  • Conditioning profiles
Performance Validation
  • Data transit frequency
  • Multiple request handling
  • Synchronization
  • Interrupt testing
  • Device performance
  • Consistency validation
Security and Data Validation
  • Validation of data packets
  • Verification of data losses or corrupt packets
  • Data encryption or decryption
  • Data values
  • User roles and responsibilities and utility pattern.
Gateway Validation
  • Cloud interface testing
  • Device-to-cloud protocol testing
  • Latency testing
Analytics Validation
  • Sensor data analytics checking
  • IoT system operational analytics
  • System filter analytics
  • Rule verification
Communication Validation
  • Interoperability
  • Device to Device
  • Interrupt testing
  • Protocol

Challenges faced in IoT testing

  • Both, the network and internal communication, needs to be checked.

  • One of the biggest concerns in IoT testing is security and privacy because the tasks are done via Internet.

  • The software complexity as well as the system itself may conceal the bugs or defects found in the IoT technology.

  • There are limitations on memory, processing power, bandwidth, battery life, etc.

Suggestions to make IoT testing effective

  • Gray box testing and IoT testing should be performed simultaneously as it enables the designing of effective test cases. This helps us understand the operating system, architecture, third-party hardware, new connectivity, and hardware restrictions.

  • Real-time OS is vital to provide scalability, modularity, connectivity, and security, all of which are essential to IoT.

  • To make it effective, IoT testing can be automated.

Tools for IoT testing

  • Shodan − This tool can be used to determine which device/s is/are connected to the Internet. It helps track all the computers which can be directly accessed from the Internet. Shodan is also used in connectivity testing. It helps in the verification of the devices connected to the IoT hub. It provides the connected devices, their locations, user information, etc. It tracks and records all the computers connected to the network.

  • Thingful − This is a Search Engine for IoT. It helps keep interoperability between millions of objects through the Internet, secured. Thingful is used to control how tha data is used. It also helps take more decisive and valuable decisions.

  • Wireshark − This open-source tool is used to monitor the traffic in interfaces, source/destination host addresses, and so on.

  • Tcpdump − This tool is quite similar to Wireshark, but for the absence of GUI (Graphical User Interface). This tool is based on command line. It helps users display packets such as TCP/IP that are transmitted over a network.

  • JTAG Dongle − This tool is quite like a debugger in desktop applications. It is used in debugging the target platform or device code, and display variables step by step.

  • Digital Storage Oscilloscope − This tool is used to investigate the different events with time stamps, glitches in power supply, and signal integration.

  • Software Defined Radio − This tool is used to mimic receiver and transmitter for a wide range of wireless gateways.

  • MQTT Spy − If the device supports MQTT protocol, then this tool is the most useful. MQTT Spy is an efficient open-source tool for IoT testing. It is particularly useful for day-to-day usage.

Prerequisites of IoT Testing

  • Setting up IoT device − The IoT device must be turned on, and can be accessed and used in real life. E.g., while testing a smart watch, make sure to wear it on wrist. Placing it on a table would not be regarded as a real user case.

  • Setting up of IoT Hub − IoT hub is a server that can connect with IoT devices and gather information from them. An IoT hub may be an application in a mobile device or a web server on a cloud. The IoT hub must be set up properly.

  • Setting up network − We need a strong wireless connection to connect IoT hub and the IoT device together. This can be possible with a Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, satellite signals, NFC (near field communication), etc. While connecting wearable device with a mobile app, ensure the following −

    • The Bluetooth of both the devices is turned on.

    • Both the devices are paired together.

    • Both the devices are in range of each other.