Borrill: One part of the IoT is the concept of having wireless communication modules in every thing. To connect to the Internet, one needs an RF module in every device at really low cost. The challenge we have then is to enable also testing at low cost - but imagine the huge volume of testing. So on one side, the volume of test - which means the cost of test - goes up and up, but there is a need to bring the cost down. So the challenge is to keep the test good enough and keeping the price adequate for low cost modules.
eeNews Europe: These considerations seriously limit the price for test equipment? After all, there are billions of IoT nodes to be tested.
Borrill: It is not a limitation but a challenge for us. The pressure is on to bring the cost of test down.
eeNews Europe: Is test automation something that helps to reduce these costs?
Borrill: Absolutely. Today, for communications devices we can fully automate the test process. But it is still the sheer volume of testing. We do apply smart algorithms to schedule testing - the sequence in which you do the tests can affect the test time. There is actually a major technology change in the work with the designers of the chipsets. For instance, if you test a handset and you want to see if you can make a call, you set up the call, you make your measurement and then release the call. This all takes time. We have examples where the test itself runs for tens of milliseconds but it takes ten seconds to put the mobile phone in the right condition to get those milliseconds of data. So there are new algorithms where we can talk directly to the chipset and tell it to just transmit what we need.