Internet of Things – What it is all about and how you can use the power of the crowd to test it

Wouldn’t it be great if your refrigerator could be aware of all the food you need and mail the grocery list to your smartphone while you are on the way to the supermarket? Sounds like science fiction, but this can be a reality in the world of the so-called Internet of Things (IoT). But what exactly do we mean when talking about IoT? Kevin Ashton, a British technology pioneer, coined the term “the Internet of Things” in 1999 to describe a system where the Internet is connected to the physical world via ubiquitous sensors. And the international consultancy McKinsey created a definition saying that the Internet of Things consists of “sensors and actuators embedded in physical objects that are linked through wired and wireless networks, often using the same Internet Protocol that connects the Internet”. What seemed to be a vision of the future in 1999, can now be found in our homes and our daily life, for example in the field of smart home products like smart light bulbs, connected toothbrushes and coffee machines. Furthermore, there are gadgets like virtual reality glasses, headsets, and cameras. In addition, some close friends, or even you yourself, might wear a smartwatch or drive a connected car. These are just a few IoT-products human beings use daily and there are many more entering the market every day.

Connecting everything

Even if all these products are intended for different use, they have one important thing in common: they have to work properly in all environments with any kind of software, OS or device that should they should connect with. So one can say that the Internet of Things suffers from the dreaded platform and device fragmentation as well as a lack of technical standards. All this points to the fact that the challenge while creating and inventing new IoT-related products is to develop applications and products that work consistently between different inconsistent tech ecosystems. The simple reason for this is that customers will only buy a “smart” product that will genuinely work the way they want it to work.

The Challenges of Testing IoT

So how can one find out if an IoT product is market-ready and fulfills the need of its potential users? The solution is professional testing. Same as with software, website or app testing, there have to be are a number of unique challenges when testing IoT products: It is necessary that you have a group of testers who represent your target group, the future user of the product. So, after having identified your target group, crowdtesting is a viable option, letting you use the power of the crowd to find appropriate testers with all the different kinds of required devices and operating systems. Real people giving real feedback is the best way you can go to receive the best exploitable test results. Besides, you need to deal with a special additional challenge: Let’s say you created a smart refrigerator and you want to have it tested by 40 testers. How do you manage to deliver the fridge to your testers? You need a testing partner who can give you access to your crowdtesters and who will take care of delivering your product to the testers – in other words: IoT testing is a big challenge and we at Testbirds love big challenges. That is why we are happy to help with our expertise in testing IoT products.

The Importance of IoT for the Global Economy

Here are some numbers to show the predicted development in the field of IoT: Bain predicts that by 2020 annual revenues could exceed 470 Billion dollars for IoT vendors selling hardware, software and comprehensive solutions. The international consultancy McKinsey estimates the total IoT market size in 2015 was up to 900 Million dollars, growing to 3.7 Billion dollars in 2020 attaining a 32.6% CAGR. And the consulting company IHS forecasts that the IoT market will grow from an installed base of 15.4 billion devices in 2015 to 30.7 billion devices in 2020 and even 75.4 billion in 2025. So, one can say that Kevin Ashton’s idea of the Internet of Things is definitely not outdated. In fact, he says that we should empower computers with their own means of gathering information, so they could see, hear and smell the world for themselves, in all its random glory. Ashton is convinced that “the Internet of Things has the potential to change the world, just as the Internet did. Maybe even more so.” To sum up, if you have an innovative IoT product and want to be part of and at the same time help to shape the growing market of IoT, use the power of the crowd to test your product and therefore make IoT products a valuable part of our daily life.

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