Make Testing Easier for the IoT

February 3, 2017 by Jeff Harris

The Force is what gives a Jedi his power.  It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together."  Obi-Wan Kenobi was so smart.   Little did Hollywood know when they wrote that line in the original 1977 Star Wars movie that they might have been talking about WiFi signals.  They are everywhere, all around us.  They are on our computers, our phones, our TVs, and they are what often connects IoT devices to networks. 

As the numbers of smart connected devices continue to grow – in businesses, homes, hospitals, shopping centers and coffee shops, airports, and increasingly large manufacturing plants – they have transitioned from a convenience to a reliance in our lives.   However, not all of those devices are designed to perform across that wide range of real-world conditions, and performance can fall off.  Variables include the device’s distance from the nearest WiFi access point, density of WiFi signals in the same area, interference from other radio-frequency noise sources, and of course data interoperability.  As a result, making sure new devices make stable, reliable connections across the intended range of environments cannot be left to chance:  it must be guaranteed. 

It’s no surprise that companies integrating these technologies are finding that overall complexity, combined with the lack of test tools, is substantially impacting their go-to-market plans.  The worst possible scenario would be to integrate what you think is a high performing off-the-shelf WiFi chipset only to find out it doesn't work correctly in the real world.   Identifying potential performance issues early before deployment ensures robust performance in the field.

We take IoT and WiFi testing seriously here at Ixia and we’ve announced our partnership with K2-Inc, an industry-leading provider of IoT software for equipment vendors automating testing, simplifying development, and increasing quality assurance of IoT devices.  They support Wi-Fi-connected white goods (smart appliances) and industrial equipment.  

K2-Inc is already using our IoT solution to rapidly and comprehensively qualify wireless chipsets for IoT deployments and carry out a range of testing functions – and with our new collaboration, we’ll be integrating our solution with the K2-Inc platform more closely than ever before.  Ultimately, this will enable us to deliver fully automated testing for IoT devices and appliances.

What does this mean in practice?  Manufacturers of connected devices will be able to accelerate and consolidate their quality assurance processes.  Comprehensive testing gives customers peace of mind that adding to their IoT ecosystems will perform as planned, without introducing new risk.  With this, original equipment manufacturers (OEM) customers will be able to add Wi-Fi functionality into their existing, unconnected devices quickly and efficiently.  Our joint solution will allow IoT product developers to simulate a wide range of Wi-Fi networks and deployment conditions so that they can choose the most appropriate Wi-Fi vendor, all while ensuring robust performance.

The collaboration between Ixia and K2-Inc will improve the testing process for existing IoT devices – and enable the speedy and secure development of brand new connected appliances.  As an individual I always find it amazing when I am on my phone or computer anywhere around the world,  looking for a WiFi signal to connect, the sheer number of WiFi signals within range.  I, for one, would like to believe they've all been tested to this level because no matter where we go now, the (WiFi) force is all around us!