Industry 4.0: Testing the Internet of Things
A while ago we talked about how the Internet of Things is entering both our homes as well as our everyday lives in a rapid pace.“Things” in the IoT term refers to an immense number of different devices: watches, dishwashers, lightning control, burglar alarms, hotel room keys and even intelligent athletic clothes streaming biometrics like heart rate.
Challenges when applying IoT into products
Despite the accelerated growth, however, the IoT is a young market and there are still many companies and manufacturers trying to figure out how they can apply the IoT into their products. And several of those companies who are already using this new approach in their devices are facing a new challenge: Functionality and Usability. Because these devices that were only recently analogue are now digital and therefore being used differently. A smart thermostat that seem to work fine in the test lab, how can a manufacturer assure it performs just as good under real life conditions? If the thermostat fails to deliver on that part, it misses the whole purpose of its core functions.
That is why extensive testing is fundamental to better avoid unsuccessful product launches of IoT devices on the market. These IoT products are connected to apps on both smartphones, tablets, desktop computers and laptops – each with different operating systems, app versions and Internet connections. The variety of mobile devices on the market has never before been as diversified as it is now. For a single manufacturer to test their IoT product and app on all these different devices would be nearly impossible, not to mention very expensive and extremely time-consuming.
Crowdtesting as a solution
At Testbirds, we use our crowd to help our clients overcome these obstacles. We recently did a project together with one of our clients where we helped them test their IoT product, which was a smart toothbrush linked to a connected app on both iOS and Android. The toothbrush sent information to the app about the tester’s brushing session: time spent, brushing pressure, thoroughness and other things. With the support from our crowd we could help our client find their target group and test the toothbrush on different markets and on those devices where the app was intended to work. After the test our testers gave detailed qualitative feedback on both functionality and usability of the toothbrush.
Testing IoT products is often exceptionally effective already in the development’s prototype stage. While many companies and manufacturers are eager to jump on the IoT train and get their product on the market, it’s not always certain that the market is ready. Will this new product find acceptance in the target group? Will that once so innovative idea actually transit all the way from beginning to end? Usability tests are therefore essential to assure the product actually serves its purpose. “The customer is always right” is a famous saying and when it comes to usability testing of IoT products, this could not be more true. After all, it is always the end consumer who decides whether a product will be a flop or a success.
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About the author
Head of Online Marketing
Markus is responsible for the online appearances of the Testbirds. Should he be offline, he has been trying for years in the high art of golf – unfortunately in vain.
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Testbirds specialises in the testing of software such as apps, websites and Internet of Things applications by using innovative technologies and solutions. Under the slogan, “Testing Reality”, the company offers various testing methods to its clients looking to optimise the user-friendliness and functionality of their digital products. With over 250,000 registered testers located in 193 countries, Testbirds is one of the world’s leading crowdtesting providers. In addition, the IT service provider utilises cloud based technologies to support customers in the optimisation of their digital products. The combination of the two testing methods delivers a unique and extensive portfolio that takes the quality of software to the next level. Testbirds was founded in 2011 by Philipp Benkler, Georg Hansbauer and Markus Steinhauser. Today, the company has over 100 employees. Other than its headquarters in Munich, there are now offices in Amsterdam, London and Stockholm, franchises in Hungary and Russia and sales partners in Italy.
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