Driving the user experiences of Connected Cars - A new era of automobile testing

Driving the user experiences of Connected Cars — A new era of automobile testing

September 16, 2022
Rohan SinghRohan Singh
Rohan Singh

IoT is ruling the world today with the extensive connectivity that it brings to our life. From smartphone apps to smart home appliances, one of the most striking additions that have manifested in our lives are smart and connected cars. 

With the expanding IoT ecosystem, it is estimated that the number of connected cars in operation will rise above 400 million by 2025. This growing number comes with the growing customer demand for a flawless connected-car experience. As a result, software testing in the automotive industry has gained major traction today to ensure meeting the dynamic consumer demands.

What is connected car technology?

A connected car generally refers to a car that can communicate bidirectionally with other systems outside the car through wireless local area networks. The automobile companies might leverage two kinds of systems: An embedded vehicle that is equipped with a chipset and built-in antenna and a Tethered System that is equipped with hardware that connects to the driver's smartphone. A connected vehicle allows users to access the internet/send data, connect with other devices through 'Internet of Things' technology, download software updates, and also provide WiFi internet connection to passengers. Further, connected vehicle telematics can be seamlessly accessed through connected technology, which is crucial for electric vehicles. 

Types of connectivity

Connected vehicles leverage different communication technologies, allowing the automotive and information technology to work simultaneously.

  • Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I) — This type of connectivity is utilized primarily for vehicle safety. The vehicle attempts to communicate with the road infrastructure and receives/shares information such as traffic/weather/road conditions, speed limits, accidents, and others.
  • Vehicle to Vehicle (V2V) — The vehicle-to-vehicle communications offer real-time information exchange between vehicles. By creating an environment where numerous cars can wirelessly exchange data, V2V offers the opportunity where every vehicle can utilize the information offered by the car belonging to the network, which helps build more effective communication covering traffic, alternative routes, car parking, road constructions or other issues hindering travels, and much more.
  • Vehicle-to-Cloud — This connection is generally established through a wireless LTE network that relays data and information to the cloud. V2C is primarily used to download over-the-air (OTA) vehicle updates, remote vehicle diagnostics, or connect with other IoT devices.

The need to test connected cars

The need for automobile testing is more than ever today with smart cars. Connected cars have a complex architecture with various components like antennas, embedded software, sensors, and many more. These vehicles hold a large volume of data and process these to share in the cloud and offer consumer services. Such vehicles deal with millions of programming codes that help align and functionalize the sensors, actuators, brakes, engine performance, safety and security alerts, and much more. As a result, the cars need to function efficiently with great precision and reliability and ensure safety for humans, which makes it essential to execute end-to-end connected car testing.

A few important test environments for connected vehicle testing primarily include:

  • Testing in the laboratory — Engineers create a controlled environment to monitor the wireless connectivity, safety, and performance of the sensors and other components.
  • Testing on-road — For checking the real-world performance, the vehicles are tested practically under various road conditions, with real endpoint testing, ensuring safety, performance, connectivity, and other parameters.
  • Testing in a virtual environment — Virtual simulation is performed from the captured data in a controlled test environment for evaluating the performance of every unit of the vehicle system.

Though the new technology in automotive creates ample opportunities, these have their own share of cons as well. The increasing number of connected apps, and vehicle-to-cloud features like air conditioner control, fuel level checking, start the ignition, open/close doors, and other vehicle-to-infrastructure features present significant challenges while ensuring seamless consumer experiences

Following are the major challenges faced while testing the connected car applications.

  • Consumer demands around mobile-at-par experiences — Very often, consumers expect infotainment systems to deliver experiences equivalent to mobile experiences in terms of responsiveness, loading time, and features like communication, music, and other entertainment features, and communication. This makes testing complex in terms of catering to multiple requirements of users.
  • Stringent requirements — As connected cars keep evolving in terms of comfort and safety across networked vehicle components and systems, the testing requirements become more and more complex. Additionally, with cars becoming more connected with external sources, for instance, vehicle-to-vehicle, vehicle-to-infrastructure, and vehicle-to-cloud, the connected cars require more efficient and extensive testing to ensure the reliable and safe operation of these complex systems.
  • Testing in geo-distributed teams — The connected cars require multiple sub-components from different sources, such as the cameras, proximity sensors, user touch, display units, and much more. Different components need to be tested and monitored by different teams in different locations, which makes it difficult to seamlessly manage testing labs across multiple geographies. This often leads to resource limitations and inefficient testing, thereby compromising the results.

What are the major aspects that need to be tested in connected cars?

Mobile application experience: Connected cars need to be tested not only for the flawless driving experience but also for good accessibility and user-friendliness of the apps under practical scenarios. The apps need to be tested for audio-visual performances, loading times, blurriness, audio buffering, search times, call drops, overall connectivity status, and much more. 

In-car infotainment experience: The advanced infotainment systems embedded in the connected cars require thorough lab testing to ensure the seamless performance of the infotainment systems. Especially as consumers expect the infotainment experience to be at par with the mobile experience on their smartphones, these need testing to measure and monitor the experiences.

Enter HeadSpin

HeadSpin's Automotive Solutions have streamlined automotive software testing significantly. The holistic AI testing solutions help test the mobile app experience as well as the in-car infotainment experience as well, helping deliver flawless experiences to your customers and cars. HeadSpin's solutions are channelized towards catering to the needs of the auto OEMs in improving development quality and QA productivity and enhancing testing efficiency and effectiveness of the testing processes. 

HeadSpin enables testing in all the major test environments, including in-lab testing, in-drive testing, and also virtual environment, to monitor the performance of the connected cars and enhance the user experiences. 

HeadSpin auto solutions allow:

  • Deployment of real mobile devices for testing automation and developer usage
  • Providing source code to all the scripts to the auto OEM
  • Measuring relevant performance metrics
  • Creating automation tests to identify performance and functional issues in 15 key user scenarios
  • Integrating HeadSpin into the auto OEM's CI/CD workflow that includes the ability to run post-build automated tests for identifying performance regressions
  • Integration with Grafana and alerting

Deploying HeadSpin

The primary elements constructing the testing solution include HeadSpin's PBox, AV Box, and the System App/SDK.

  • The PBox supports remote manual and automated testing of the devices debuggable over USB
  • The AV Box serves as the sound/light isolated enclosure for apps that require audio video testing like the voice assistants 
  • Consumer system app/SDK is designed for experience monitoring from consumer devices

The HeadSpin solution can be seamlessly deployed on the premises of the customer, shared cloud, client-dedicated cloud, or reverse bridge technique (unique to HeadSpin).

  • The on-prem deployment involves deploying the solution into an isolated network managed by the customer where no traffic leaves this network. 
  • The client-dedicated cloud deployment option, however, creates significant traction as it provides dedicated devices for customers in the HeadSpin cloud and helps isolate customer services, configuration, data, devices, and hosts to a private subnet.
  • HeadSpin's reverse bridge technique or 'Create your own Lab' simplifies the testing journeys for companies immensely by eliminating their limitations of accessing multiple test labs for different purposes across various locations. CYOL enables distributed testing from anywhere in the world with reduced latency access to remote devices owned by the customer.

How does HeadSpin work?

The AI-driven automobile solution captures required data from the devices placed in the client's user locations, connected to a local network or WiFi. With multiple deployment options, HeadSpin Appliance is securely deployed, and it can be integrated with various automated frameworks like Appium, Selenium, or any 3rd party testing tool and access the devices via remote control UI/debug bridge. The ML-driven platform analyzes the collected data to:

  • Detect issues
  • Perform root cause analysis
  • Measure critical KPIs
  • Provide regression intelligence

HeadSpin further offers insightful visualizations and analytics dashboards with custom KPIs like App launch time, account history, search time, transaction time, and much more.

HeadSpin's auto solutions can be utilized across three major use cases that include the Infotainment System Testing, Automation Enabler, and Phone as a Key (PaaK).

Infotainment Testing Solution

HeadSpin's In-Vehicle Infotainment Solution (IVIS) leverages data science and innovations to infotainment and in-cabin experience measurement that helps monitor real-time user experience and identify issues in the infotainment system and resolve them proactively.

headspin automobile testing solutions

How does the HeadSpin Solution for Infotainment Testing work?

HeadSpin's In-vehicle Infotainment Solution (IVIS) leverages data science and innovation to infotainment and in-cabin experience measurement that allows monitoring of real-time user experience and resolving issues with the infotainment systems proactively.

The HeadSpin data science platform with the SDK solution embedded into the vehicle infotainment system helps capture real-time data and perform efficient data analysis. The platform captures crucial user experience KPIs and contextual data, including blank screens, buffering/preloader animations, UX restrictions, velocity, user engagement, and others, utilizing the ML at edge, monitoring experiences, uploading crucial information and data to the cloud, and deliver near real-time insights.

HeadSpin Solution for Infotainment Testing

How does the Infotainment System Testing Solution help?

To help auto OEMs improve the testing efficiency and effectiveness, HeadSpin enables:

  • Remote access to shared devices — HeadSpin allows auto OEMs and IVI app developers to access shared devices that are deployed and managed by HeadSpin, as well as create their own dedicated cloud labs deployed on the client premises or in the HeadSpin cloud.
  • AI-based analytics — The advanced AI and ML platform enables users to gain intelligent insights for accelerated product development. The holistic solution helps identify functional and performance-related issues early on, execute root cause analysis, garner automated regression intelligence and further identify the key performance indicators for the infotainment unit.
  • Monitoring the digital experience — to capture the consumer data continually, a system app is pre-installed in the infotainment unit, which is analyzed and converted into headSpin metadata. HeadSpin's ML helps identify the issues and maintains customer privacy by uploading only the curated debug data to the cloud, which gives valuable insights into app performance, user experiences, and driver distraction.

HeadSpin's Innovative Automation Enabler

This automation enabler, Blue Finger, helps to improve the coverage of testing.

The Blue Finger is placed in contact with the touch screen to help activate a predetermined location on the touch screen electromagnetically. In addition, the automation enabler involves 'Switch,' a smart actuator triggered by the controller board on command, and test bench software (Windows)-actions triggered on command. 

Phone as a Key (PaaK)

The QA teams require managing the tools and devices efficiently, irrespective of their locations. While a tester might be located in California, the spare device might be in another part of the world. Addressing this, HeadSpin helps automobile companies automate end-to-end user journeys and interact with the units efficiently.

HeadSpin's Phone as a Key (PaaK)—Connected Car Solution enables:

  • Latency calculations for every use case
  • Provides historical information, including improvements and degradations
  • Calculates Bluetooth connection drop and performance matrix
  • Provides insights into noisy environment effects and performance data

HeadSpin's impact on enhancing business value

HeadSpin's AI platform enables leading automobile companies to enhance user experience through proactive repairs and improved service, resulting in high NPS.

The key advantages of HeadSpin include:

  • Drives revenue by improving the infotainment experience
  • Offers a unique opportunity for the auto industry to monetize data
  • Reduces production issues by significant numbers
  • Resolve regressions quickly
  • Accelerate development cycles
  • Helps obtain better visibility into functional and performance issues

In a nutshell..

As vehicles become increasingly connected, the focus on testing these systems to ensure the right performance, safety, and reliability rises. The complex units require efficient testing techniques that can help cater to the requirements of the users and deliver flawless experiences. HeadSpin's solutions are the right match for streamlining automobile testing with the unique advantages of executing tests across any location and testing in-car experiences as well as car app experiences for all users. 

Leverage HeadSpin for every vehicle, every driver, and every engagement across the automobile space.

Driving the user experiences of Connected Cars — A new era of automobile testing

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