The Wireless Challenge
IoT connectivity depends on a variety of wireless standards. For instance, a medical device may need to interface with WiFi, 4G, Bluetooth, and/or Zigbee. The device will need to work regardless of electromagnetic or physical interference while meeting the highest security standards.
These considerations make life challenging for software developers. Connectivity and infrastructure must inform the design on applications. Software tests will need to pre-preemptively tackle questions such as “What happens to data when a connection is unexpectedly dropped?” To find out whether data remains intact and secure, strenuous tests must be performed in RF-saturated environments while the device alternates between different connections.
Considering Compatibility and Coverage can be Daunting
With just about everyone getting on the IoT bandwagon, the array of devices and protocols has never been more diverse. The technical specifications of each device vary and may seem inflated when you test the device in the real world. Environmental conditions can seriously impair the ability of devices to perform to their factory expectations. Devices need to be tested in a range of conditions, for compatibility and coverage, for data integrity, and for reliability and scalability testing.
The working range of IoT devices depends heavily on climate, environmental conditions, and their configuration. Humidity levels, walls, human traffic, columns, and metal will all affect the efficacy of your device’s signal strength. Many devices like Bluetooth Beacons allow the user to raise or lower signal strength. Users need to experiment with signal strength and find the right balance between battery life and the density of nodes in their deployment.
Most IoT devices run on batteries – and the life expectancy of a battery greatly depends on the frequency and strength of the device’s signal. If battery life is important to you, you may need to purchase robust devices which accommodate more powerful batteries. A test of battery drain at low, medium, and high usage will allow you to better predict how arduous maintenance will be.
Capacity and Latency:
Capacity refers to the number of bytes which a network can handle per second. Latency refers to the total time required for a message to move between an endpoint device such as a node and a cloud-based application. If real-time tracking and monitoring is needed in your IoT application, reducing latency is critical. Your network must be up to the task of transmitting as much data as required for your application without latency.
Regardless of whether you are monitoring temperature levels room-by-room in your own home or overseeing traffic and air quality data throughout a city, the security of your data must be a consideration. This is all the more critical if you provide IoT solutions as a serve to the public. Test your hardware to ensure data is encrypted as it transfers from one device to the next.
There are so many hardware options and roles for devices to play within a network. Each peripheral device may interact with varying degrees of success with central gateways and hubs. Testing small batches of hardware together to monitor the efficiency of their connection will save time and money during full-scale deployments.
With these considerations in mind, we encourage you to purchase small quantities of peripheral devices to test their functionality in their intended environment. You may find that your initial calculations regarding the quantity of nodes you needs requires adjustments. We also recommend that you try many configurations and increase and decrease the Tx power of your devices to find the perfect balance of range and battery life.
IoT Testing Via HTTP Webhook
To view the Tx power, RSSI, battery life, and data packets from your peripheral devices, we recommend using a free webhook service such as uBeac Hook. It works by configuring your gateway to forward peripheral device data to their cloud server. The connectivity, battery life, RSSI, and sensor data from your devices will be displayed so that you can properly test the range of your devices. When connectivity fails, you know your device is out of range. When RSSI drops, your devices are moving slowly out of range.
At Momentaj, we have tested a range of peripheral and central devices such as WiFi/BLE Gateways. Get in touch with us if you have questions about your use-case and future IoT plans.