A Blog from QualiTest

The Internet of Things and Software Testing

The Internet of Things is a kind of loose, confusing term that basically relates to any one thing that can communicate with another thing with...

The Internet of Things is a kind of loose, confusing term that basically relates to any one thing that can communicate with another thing with minimal human involvement. It’s also the term du jour in the tech world- from smart phones to smart fridges, it seems like everything’s getting an education these days. Gone are the trinkets of yesteryear that did exactly what they appeared to do- now your heat can turn itself down when you leave for work and the front door can unlock automatically when your kids get home from school. Oh, what a world.

It’s one thing that our phones and computers are now open to hackers – do we really want things like our cars to be open to the same threat?

While it’s certainly innovative, that isn’t to say that the Internet of Things is foolproof or flawless at this point. In fact, quite the opposite- the ubiquitous example lately is the hackable personal insulin pump. It’s one thing that our phones and computers are now open to hackers – do we really want things like our cars to be open to the same threat? Surely there will be a certain amount of security testing and penetration testing that will be necessary for products like this, but there are also more mundane issues that could make the World of Tomorrow a real drag. Smart phone companies have proven to be stubborn enough when it comes to making updates accessible to users; using an outdated operating system on your Android is one thing, but do you want to open up your house’s heating system to the same bugs? What’s to say companies will be any better about incorporating iWarm 3.0 into homes when it comes to replace the 2.0 version?

Top Four “Things” We Don’t Want to Test

The line between software testing and hardware testing could begin to blur as the Internet of Things becomes more accessible to the layman, and for all we know at some point we’ll start getting calls from Samsung to test fridges, or chandeliers, or potting soil, or whatever else they’re smart-ifying at that point. When something awesome needs to get done – like mobile testing for a smart liquor cabinet that texts you when you’re running low on scotch – we’ll be totally down; until then, here are the top four Things we aren’t interested in testing. They may or may not exist yet, but just wait – you never know what the future will hold…

  • Smart Toilets. The Japanese have had pretty crazy toilets for a while now, but heated seats and perfume spritzers are really as smart as we’re hoping they get. We dread the day that our toilets can be linked to our social media accounts.
  • Carbon Footprint Trackers. Not to say we’re litterbugs, but could you imagine a mobile app that connected your cellphone to your credit card so it could send you admonishing texts every time you bought a hamburger or filled your gas tank?
  • Smart cleaning tools. Washing machines that can text you when your laundry is done are already out there, and as great an idea as further innovations could be, we really don’t want to have to keep snoozing alarms to clean our tile grout from the bottle of grout cleaner itself.
  • Clothes that tell you when they’re out of fashion. Apparently these are already a thing. It’s bad enough to have fashion magazines and the media telling us we aren’t keeping up with the trends – now we have our clothes telling us the same thing? And we don’t even want to imagine the price tags on those bad boys.

This isn’t to say that we aren’t on board with adding new roles to our job descriptions. The Internet of Things will change plenty of facets of the software industry, and as technology advances surely our responsibilities as software testers will change too. Maybe future hires at QualiTest won’t think there’s anything odd about testing the software in water filters, but personally we’re still getting used to the idea.

This post is part of an ongoing series about quality control, quality assurance, and software testing. For more on the topic:

Software Testing and HealthCare.Gov
Quality Assurance and Big Data
Android 4.4 “Kit Kat” and Quality Assurance