Saturday, August 1, 2015

Testing the IoT - Live from #TestRetreat

Ah yes, The Internet of Things! that weird cross section of devices and services that are super specific or are focused on areas that are still being defined. We hear about thermostats that learn, or devices that report blood sugar levels for people with diabetes.

The Internet of things are going to introduce all sorts of devices and needs for testing that come in all different shapes or sizes. Scott Allman brought in a bunch of interesting devices that are tiny and can be deployed for simple purposes. Imagine a device the size of a nine volt battery that can act as a full stack web server.

One of the fun aspects about these tiny devices is that they often have very primitive interfaces, or raw Linux style interfaces. This encourages people to play around with the devices and interact with the device. Additionally, with these tiny devices, it's possible to create multiple systems that can be deployed very cheaply, so we can set up little networks and sandboxes for very little cost.

Some of the challenges we face with these devices are in the realm of security, as well as the way that the system is powered (battery vs. dedicated power, using protocols like low energy bluetooth, etc.). there are also devices that use accelerometers, so part of testing includes subjecting the device to motion. Additional tests we might care about would be related to power, heat, durability, responsiveness, performance, usability, and accessibility. Many of the test approaches and themes that we use for mobile testing will be able to be applied to the Internet of Things as well.

What I find interesting is that these could be very low priced devices to implement and test with performance and security tools. I could see being able to create a small network of devices and implement jMeter and Kali Linux to poke around with. I joked that it would be fun to be able to have a belt where each section is a separate server,  and HSA and load balancing applications could be experimented with.

I noticed that in this talk, I kept thinking about using these devices for servers and applications I'm already familiar with. There's lots of applications I haven't even remotely considered, and I know that with time as I get more familiar with uses, I can start applying ideas for these devices and see what other avenues of exploration I can discover.
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