October 19, 2023
IoT device designers and manufacturers face incredible pressure to launch devices while avoiding unnecessary cost, time, or complexity. Because embedded teams are often constrained by time and budget limitations, testing before product launch is even more critical for IoT companies. Inadequate testing can result in severe consequences, including reputation damage or product failure. Rigorous test coverage is vital as it ensures device reliability and performance and can help reduce the risk of bricked devices caused by faulty firmware updates. For device makers, comprehensive testing provides the crucial balance between swiftly getting a product to market and ensuring its quality and reliability. In this blog, we’ll discuss some basics of testing to help you get started today.
Clearly defined testing goals provide a roadmap for your software testing efforts, ensuring that you focus on the most critical aspects of the project. To identify specific objectives for your product, follow these steps:
A comprehensive test plan will involve critical testing components, a general template that can be followed, and several testing phases.
Components of a robust test plan should:
Building a skilled and diverse testing team will bring various perspectives and insights, helping identify potential issues from multiple angles. Teams should leverage a template or framework for creating a test plan in embedded projects that should start with a clear understanding of the project's context, including goals, constraints, and risks. Considerations should include:
Unit testing, integration testing, system testing, and end-to-end testing all work to verify the interactions between different components, ensure the overall system's functionality and reliability, and validate the software's behavior in real-world scenarios.
Unit testing can be beneficial and easy after a brief introduction and a few test runs of writing your own tests. Projects that benefit from unit testing are those that require filesystems, BLE and Wi-Fi stacks, specialized data structures (both in-memory and in-flash), and complex algorithms like those interpreting gyroscope and accelerometer data.
Integration testing is always conducted after unit testing when developers gradually integrate several components and test the interfacing between the inter-connected components as a combined entity to ensure that the different modules work correctly in the overall system. Integration testing is crucial to stay in compliance and eliminate issues not found during unit testing.
System testing is then performed after integration testing to check the system as one for both functional and non-functional testing (usability, reliability, performance, etc). System testing helps identify system defects and ensures the system meets any specified requirements.
End-to-end (E2E) testing involves testing the entire process of using software from an end-user’s perspective, from the beginning to the end of the end-user experience. If your end product is a set of API endpoints, then your E2E tests should use the API endpoints directly with the standard authentication methods that your app expects.
Choosing the right testing tools is key. In complex and interdependent firmware code, best practices for unit testing involve breaking down tests into discrete paths or features within a module. To get started, here are a few basic best practices and tools:
Interpreting test results accurately is the cornerstone of a successful analysis. Examine test results meticulously, comparing actual outcomes with expected ones and recognizing recurring patterns or issues.
Swift issue identification and resolution are crucial for preventing escalations, cost-efficiency, and user satisfaction. Tailor your incident response to test outcomes based on the severity and nature of the issues:
Iterative testing is integral for continual product enhancement. By consistently collecting and analyzing data from embedded systems, developers can swiftly detect issues, optimize performance, and rectify software bugs in real-time. Using it enables embedded software and firmware to evolve and excel over time.
Elements of an iterative approach include:
By building products with an iterative approach, teams can deploy ongoing monitoring, testing, and analysis of device performance and software behavior and refine and innovate even after a product has been launched.
Beyond customers, an iterative approach requires engaging friendly, non-technical customers (friends, family, and co-workers) in beta testing to obtain diverse perspectives. To gather user feedback effectively, companies should consider:
The days leading up to your product launch are critical. Before your IoT product goes live, ensure you've conducted all the tests listed above. Maintain a checklist that covers software updates and documentation, and ensure your customer support team is prepared. The final sign-off process is a pivotal step to declare product readiness. Prioritize comprehensive testing to secure a successful product launch.
For a real-world example of how a reliable testing solution can lead to a successful product launch, read more about Memfault’s customer, Diamond Kinetics, a leading sports technology provider. Diamond Kinetic’s experience showcases the power of strategic testing and the role of trusted partners in accelerating development and confidently bringing an IoT product to market.