Testing Beyond the 5 Cs of IoT

Article By : Janet Ooi and Joo Ann Beh, Keysight Technologies

As more IoT systems become complex and mission-critical, testing is crucial to deliver the highest-quality device and best possible customer experience.

How is the electronics industry helping manufacturers in their digitalization and industrial automation journey? What’s the role of sensors in IIoT, and how can manufacturers ensure cybersecurity of their industrial control systems? This month’s In Focus looks at the challenges and progress in manufacturers’ transition to smarter factories.


Testing is Crucial for Mission Critical Industrial IoT

Smart wireless devices used in industrial applications are often deployed in demanding environments. Devices such as sensors play a very important role in industry by providing vital real-time data to give insight into operations and ensure processes and controls happen on time and safely.

Today, IoT device manufacturers test these wireless devices separately at the component, device, and software application levels. This approach assumes that the integration of the separate components will be seamless and without error. However, it may put a company’s reputation at risk as a device can fail unexpectedly in a real-world environment if one of the components malfunctions. It could even put operations at risk if devices such as industrial sensors fail to perform as expected. As more IoT systems become complex and mission-critical, testing is crucial to deliver the highest-quality device and best possible customer experience.

5 Cs + 1 Test Approach Ensures Your Devices Thrive

The rapid growth of wireless devices on the industrial, scientific, and medical (ISM) bands has increased complexity in device design, test, performance, security, and usability. Testing these devices is one of the biggest challenges for design engineers and device manufacturers. They need to address the following 5 C challenges across the IoT device lifecycle:

  • Connectivity ensures that your IoT devices connect to other IoT devices, the cloud, and the world around them.
  • Continuity requires that your IoT devices have an extended battery life to do their jobs.
  • Compliance requires that your IoT devices adhere to global regulations.
  • Coexistence ensures that your IoT devices work harmoniously in crowded IoT environments.
  • Cybersecurity safeguards your data from cyber security threats.

Build Customer Experience-Centered IoT Devices

The first five Cs—connectivity, continuity, compliance, coexistence, and cybersecurity—are all important. However, another C, customer experience, puts a device ahead of the competition. Complete customer experience testing focuses on how the devices function in real-life scenarios and how the devices should respond to process inputs.

Incorporating industrial operation needs into product design and test early in the lifecycle, is paramount to satisfying and retaining device manufacturer’s customers.

5 Cs + 1 of IoT

Customer Experience Testing

Users generally experience IoT devices through software and firmware applications. IIoT in particular drives the need to connect and coordinate a large number of machinery or devices using software tools.

Testing these applications can be very difficult, and here are some of the reasons why design and validation engineers are struggling.

  • Software often includes features that users can customize. The number of possible paths and permutations of various settings can be too extensive to test manually.
  • Devices of industrial IoT range from sensitive environmental sensors to complex industrial robots. To complicate matters, an IoT application may involve several platforms. End-to-end customer experience testing must incorporate all platforms, including the various hardware revisions and operating systems that need support.
  • Market pressure to quickly release each IoT device and software update means you must test using an automated approach.

Complete Testing Maximizes Device Performance

Luckily, integrated solutions on the market today, such as Eggplant’s Digital Automation Intelligence and Robotic Process Automation (RPA), can tackle these test challenges facing design and validation engineers. These solutions are intelligent model-based test solutions that can test the end-to-end customer experience and optimize the product.

These solutions include four components that can provide comprehensive test coverage for the entire range of potential user journeys.

  • Device modelling with a measurement control interface that creates a digital twin of the test instrument to measure performance.
  • Equipment that uses advanced automation to replace manual human interactions, to enable quick and more precise development.
  • Software or application modelling to simulate real user scenarios to test the complete customer journey for quick and effective end-to-end design validation.
  • Cloud-based software modelling with machine-learning data analysis algorithms, to profile user behavior to improve the end-user experience.

Industrial IoT presents many exciting and transformational opportunities in dozens of vertical markets, but the design and test challenges are formidable. The opportunities with end-to-end testing are wide-ranging. Following the comprehensive 5 C’s + 1 approach — connectivity, continuity, compliance, coexistence, cybersecurity, and customer experience can maximize your IoT device performance.

End-to-end customer experience testing provides two significant benefits. Seamless user experience ensures that the digital ecosystem works as intended — timely and error-free — from the user’s perspective. And, deep insights into the complete user journey enable IoT device manufacturers to continuously optimize and enhance their products to provide better user experiences.

Design and validation engineers should optimize the product and ensure comprehensive test coverage of the entire range of potential user journeys. Using a modern AI-assisted approach to model-based testing that emulates user behaviour, enables testing any technology at every layer. Design and validation engineers can predict the quantified impact of new product versions to create high-quality integrated products in industrial IoT applications to transform their business.
About the Authors

Janet Ooi is Industry Solutions Manager, Keysight Global Marketing at Keysight Technologies.

Joo Ann Beh is Solution Manager, General Electronics Measurement Solutions at Keysight Technologies.

 

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