IoT Application Testing: Addressing the Complexities and Challenges

By Skizzle | February 25, 2021

The Internet of Things popularly known as IoT is the network that consists of devices, vehicles, buildings, or any other connected electronic devices. This interconnection facilitates the collection and exchange of data. Enterprises are adopting the IoT for the benefits offered, e.g., operations optimization, cost reduction & improved efficiency.

There are 4 components of an IoT system which are sensor, application, network & data center (backend).

Various factors drive IoT development & adoption such as easy availability of low-cost sensors, improved bandwidth processing power, vast usage of smartphones, big data analysis tools’ availability & scalability of IPV6.

Let’s dig deeper into the challenges and complexities of IoT application testing.

IoT systems’ unique features and requirements

IoT applications are characterized by many unique factors in comparison with other applications, such as:

  • Combination of hardware, sensors, connectors, gateways, & application software in a single system.
  • Real-time streaming analytics/complex event processing
  • Support for data volume, velocity, variety, & veracity
  • Visualization of large-scale data

Addressing IoT’s QA Complexities

To cover the depth and breadth of the IoT testing, an integrated QA strategy is required. The strategy must comprise the types of tests, test set-up, test tools, and simulators that should be used. In view of the problems with generating big data in a test environment, data simulation and virtualization techniques are indispensable to be evaluated. We can consider Stubs as an early-stage option while at later stages, data recorders can serve as alternatives. In order to achieve a stable system, metric-driven comprehensive test execution is conducted beyond test planning and data simulation.

As described below, IoT test areas can be divided into two layers. Although the QA must be carried out across both layers, techniques, and types of tests that can be adjusted for every layer are always easier to identify in order to improve the test strategies.

The device interaction layer

This is the layer where a real-time IoT environment communicates with software and hardware components. The following are the broad types of other required elements, in addition to typical software testing:

  • Conformance with standards: These are mostly device performance characteristics that are particular to devices and sensors. These attributes must be validated against the standards of the device and its communications protocol. Hardware providers perform the majority of such tests, however, certain domain or use-case-specific requirements may be established, such as the use of such devices in an untested environment.
  • Interoperability: The ability of different devices to support the required functionality among themselves, other external devices, and implementations.
  • Security: With billions of sensors in the making, it’s crucial to tackle data privacy and security concerns across the IoT ecosystem. The following are the different types of security testing requirements:
      1. Identity and authentication.
      2. Data protection.
      3. Data encryption.
      4. Storage data security in local and remote clouds.

The user interaction layer

This layer is the touchpoint between the thing and the user. The success of the overall system depends on the user receiving a seamless experience. Key testing areas in this layer include:

  • Network capability and device level tests: The specific aspects of network communication such as connectivity are validated by simulating different network modes in addition to device-level validation such as energy consumption tests, etc.
  • Usability and user experience: Usability and user experience are important in terms of real-time usability; it involves human/machine interaction and also the real-time experience that the IoT system provides in a specific interaction. For example, contactless payments compared with a physical card-based payment.
  • The IoT services and back-end IoT environment: While integration testing of the interfaces is key, there is a complex data layer that comes into play. For example, a typical IoT system packs a complex analytical engine to ensure an exceptional user experience.

Challenges that Thwart IoT Testing

iot application testing services and solutions

These characteristics consequently present a unique set of challenges when it comes to testing IoT applications. The primary challenges include:

Dynamic environment: Unlike application testing performed in a defined environment, IoT has a very dynamic environment with millions of sensors and different devices in conjunction with intelligent software.

Real-time complexity: IoT applications can have multiple, real-time scenarios and their use cases are extremely complex.

Scalability of the system: Creating a test environment to assess functionality along with scalability and reliability is challenging.

Apart from the above challenges, there exist several factors that present operational challenges:

Related subsystems and components owned by third-party units

The complex set of use cases to create test cases and data

Hardware quality and accuracy

Security and privacy issues

Safety concerns

Types of IoT Testing

Iot application testing types

The complex architecture of IoT systems and their unique characteristics mandate various types of tests across all system components. In order to ensure that the scalability, performance, and security of IoT applications is up to the mark, the following types of tests are recommended:

Edge testing

Several emerging, industrial IoT applications require coordinated, real-time analytics at the ’edge’ of a network, using algorithms that require a scale of computation and data volume/velocity. However, the networks connecting these edge devices often fail to provide sufficient capability, bandwidth, and reliability. Thus, edge testing is very essential for any IoT application.

Protocol and device interoperability testing

IoT communication protocol and device interoperability testing involve assessing the ability to seamlessly interoperate protocols and devices across different standards and specifications.

Security and privacy testing

This includes security aspects like data protection, device identity authentication, encryption/decryption, and trust in cloud computing.

Network impact testing

Network impact testing involves measuring the qualitative and quantitative performance of a deployed IoT application in real network conditions. This can include testing IoT devices for a combination of network size, topology, and environmental conditions.

Performance and real-time testing

This covers complex aspects like timing analysis, load testing, real-time stream analytics, and time-bound outputs, under the extremes of data volume, velocity, variety, and veracity.

End-user application testing

Includes the testing of all functional and non-functional use cases of an IoT application, which also includes user experience and usability testing.


Best practices for effective IoT Software Testing

  • Gray Box testing should be used for IoT testing because it enables efficient test case design. This helps you to understand the OS, architecture, hardware, new connectivity, and limitation of the hardware.
  • The Real-Time Operating System is crucial for the scalability, modularity, connectivity, and protection of IoT.
  • IoT Testing should be automated.


Skizzle IoT Validation Solution

In response to the unique requirements and challenges of invalidation of IoT applications, Skizze Tech has developed a comprehensive quality assurance (QA) strategy. Our IoT Validation solution allows the testing of actual devices, tools, and frameworks together. The Skizzle IoT Test Framework offers all the functional validation, load simulation, and security testing capabilities. It can easily integrate with various IoT protocols and platforms, thus providing interoperability. This is just a glimpse of our capabilities, as we have various tools and solutions that can be leveraged to perform end-to-end testing of IoT solutions. To find out more about our IoT services, contact us now.


  • iot
  • iot application testing
  • iot application testing solution

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