How to (not) build useless Smart Home devices

Smart home

We’ve all seen it in the movies: people walk into their smart homes, and everything just works out perfectly. alarms deactivate, lights set at the right brightness, the thermostat adjusts accordingly, and everything fits the owner’s needs. These are the type of daily-life upgrades that almost everyone would find pleasant. However, achieving this level of integration and convenience is not an easy feat—and software developers know just why.


The Recipe for Uselessness

Let’s imagine you just got the perfect idea for a new, fresh, and perhaps even revolutionary smart device. You draw up prototype plans, create a solid marketing plan, put together the final version, and launch it to market. Best case scenario, a few people like it and keep it around. However, you would’ve still gone past one crucial part of development: testing it.

The lack of proper Quality Assurance (QA) and Testing processes are the main ingredients in creating useless smart home devices. Whether it gets done through software QA outsourcing, freelance engineers, or in-house employees, know that almost any project’s success depends on it.

Why? Mainly because, without it, manufacturers would have no idea how their device will actually perform in the real world. The goal of QA & Testing is to guarantee that final users will get the best possible final product on their hands. This is done by continuously testing and monitoring the product from start to finish, and pushing it beyond its original purposes.

Experienced QA engineers tend to put special focus on this last idea—trust me, people will do all kinds of things with smart home devices, and it better be prepared for that. After all, the entire existence of these devices is based around user interaction.

By simulating real-world conditions in test environments and recording the results, QA is able to provide software developers with valuable insights on the device’s performance, strengths, and weaknesses—and this is just the kind of intel that can drive a smart home device to the top.


The Recipe for Usefulness

There are two ways to see smart home devices: either as a magical convenience paradise or as a confusing labyrinth with unnecessary and complex features that don’t seem to work together. To achieve the former and become actually useful, any device needs to be validated under several key principles. Let’s run them down.

  • Device Integration: Smart home devices are becoming so popular that people all over the world are starting to make them. Therefore, it is best to study the peculiar features of the device to ensure they can integrate with all of the other possible devices that would interact within a network. This is the only way to find out if and how issues would occur, and save customers from dealing with that hassle.
  • User Experience: Today, the market is all about experiences, and not about products. A smart home device must make it as easy as possible for a user to communicate and interact with it. A thorough layout of the target User Experience (UX) along with proper QA validation is the driver of user satisfaction. This can be achieved by gathering and analyzing data from use cases, user experience write-ups, usability tests, and by studying the way users interact with the device’s functionalities.
  • Internet Connectivity: Since smart home devices can only interact with each other via internet networks, communication factors will always come into play. It is highly recommended to test the device’s performance under a variety of network parameters, such as hard-wire connections, WAN, LAN, Wifi, or mobile data providers.
  • Circumstantial Behavior: Smart devices should perform differently under different circumstances. This is where straightforward code testing is not enough to guarantee their proper functionality. Activities can be conducted on a variety of circumstances and platforms, which will always affect the way data is mined and analyzed. Testing this requires creative thinking and problem-solving skills. The device’s computing system should be able to make intelligent decisions, but also effectively analyze user behavior and act upon it.
  • Cyber Security: This is perhaps the greatest threat to Smart Home technology, and one of the main reasons why tons of people remain skeptical about it—which gives a lot more reason to test it properly. As devices communicate with each other, there is a chance people generate some type of sensitive or confidential data. Testing the various nodes and firewalls within a system is paramount to guarantee that such data stays private. Since approaching this issue is quite complex, reaching out to a software QA outsourcing company is often the smartest choice.


Going Forward with QA and Smart Home Tech

The value of a smart home device is practically defined by how users experience it. Smart homes are only so idealistic because of the convenience they provide and the way they make people feel. Most likely, we will continue seeing the industry take steps towards this direction and pushing technology towards more personalized customer experience.

Nonetheless, Quality Assurance for smart home devices is bound to get more and more complicated as new devices enter the market. Larger home ecosystems translate into stronger and more concerted efforts to test each device in relation to one another. In this framework, the high levels of automation and robotics that QA companies can provide will significantly improve the overall performance in the industry.

In the following years, we can expect to see a lot more of automated processes and digital skills in the QA field, as testing continues to turn away from traditional manual operations to highly-technological, fast, and innovative approaches.


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