Can't donate to charity?
Volunteer computer time
or Support SETI!
R&D Sponsorship Center
September 2013

Home Page
Feature Archive
A&I Column Archive
Production Tools
State Marketing Data
US Marketing Data
World Marketing
Service Directory
Quality Assurance
3D Printing

Subscribe to Advertising & Marketing Review!
Contact Ken Custer at 303-277-9840.

A&M Review Announces Robotic Mobile Device QA System

by Glen Emerson Morris
Related Columns
Desktop Manufacturing
Hits the Home Market

It's the biggest revolution of the 21st century. And it's going on now.
The Fab Future of
Desktop Manufacturing

Desktop manufacturing is finally getting affordable, at least to businesses.
The Object of 3D Printing
Print anything you need, from cameras to cars, and do your own recycling.
The Future of Arthur C. Clarke
One of the greatest science writers predicts what this century will hold for us.
Recommended Columns
The Greening of Expectations
It's not a fad, it's critical to our survival.
The Learning Curve to Prosperity
Buckminster Fuller predicted the resource crunch now hitting us. He also gave us the tools to deal with it.

Over the last year we've been working on a solution to one of the biggest problems facing online advertisers today: how to make sure their Website runs properly on the more than 6,000 different combinations of mobile devices and browsers currently in use. We believe we have a solution now. It won't make the problem go away completely, but it will make the problem a lot more manageable.

In the 1st quarter of 2014 Advertising & Marketing Review will market a robotic system designed to make automated testing of mobile devices quick, cheap and reliable. We estimate our system will provide at least 90% of the coverage of Selenium WebDriver for less than 20% of the time and expense, and the system will cost less than $1500. In addition, it will only require simple scripting to operate, so even non-programmers will be able to record and execute automated tests.

We believe our system will be a major improvement over current mobile device testing methods. Conventional automation tools like WinRunner have to run on the computer being tested, in parallel with the test application, and communicate with it a lot. Unfortunately, the highly effective sandbox security model that Android and iOS use, also make both platforms difficult to test. The sandbox approach limits the device to running one application at a time and it also severely limits conversation between applications. This means that by definition, WinRunner can't run on either Android or iOS platforms. Selenium Server has the same problem.'s answer was to create Selenium WebDriver, which works by requiring the test code be embedded in the mobile device application itself. This solves the problem very effectively, but at the cost of efficiency. The test code has to be modified to work on different browsers, and any significant changes to the application's code will likely require significant changes to the test code on each of the browsers being tested. This will cost time and money, and the result in practice is that the less common a device browser combination the less likely it is to be tested. And that goes for features as well. There's just not enough time to test every feature in every condition, so you just test the most basic features on the most common device browser combinations.

Even then, the drain on engineering resources can be enormous. What you wind up with is a roomful of highly paid QA engineers who are all writing the same tests covering the same most basic features, just for slightly different device/browser combinations. No engineer has the time to program in depth testing of the application. Our system changes that completely.

Since our system is designed to run the same code on many different device/browser combinations with little if any modification, there is no duplication of effort by engineers. Instead of 10 engineers writing code that tested 80% of the most used features on 10 different device/browser combinations, you could test 100% of the basic features and a good chunk of the less common, fringe type of situations. Why the big improvement? Simple. With our system engineering effort is cumulative, so 10 engineers will provide 10 times the coverage.

So how do we do it?
Our system resembles a small 3D printer or CNC milling system because it uses a similar mechanism to drive the stylus to enter data and menu selections. We use a high definition camera focused on the mobile device's screen to capture text and images for test verification. The bottom line is our system can do about everything with a mobile device a real person can, and it can do it 24 hours a day 7 days a week, and without time off for lunch.

Our system will also make development easier. Currently, iOS developers have to get permission, and a certificate, from Apple just to allow their desktops to plug into iPhones and iPads for testing. And to make matters worse, if you're want to automate testing an application for third party compatibility testing (like automating testing the Hue system for a magazine review), you're out of luck completely. Our system doesn't need a physical network connection to any other computer, so no certificates are needed from Apple or anyone else. And our system won't require you use a specific test tool environment either.

Our initial release will include the robotic hardware and a device interface to allow tests written in a variety of languages from PHP to Java and C++ to use the system. The device interface will convert the test scripts into CNC code to drive the mechanical stylus to enter keystrokes and menu selections. The device interface will also return text and images from the tests underway.

The robotic test system is the second phase of our solution to completely automate testing of the Philips Hue lighting system and other home office automation systems. The first phase involved designing and programming a hardware device to able to verify events happening outside the computer, and this phase has completed.

We've started taking orders for immediate delivery of our sensor module, for sale at $199, or rental from $15 a day. Our sensor module is designed to verify real world events like a light coming on with the right brightness and color. While our base module is specifically designed and configured to test the Philips Hue lighting system, we can verify a wide variety of events and conditions, including temperature, motion, speed, proximity, presence of a magnetic field, presence of metal and barometric pressure, just to name a few. We have over 30 different types of sensors in stock, and others, like radiation sensors are available by special order.

We can also provide the sensor module using other versions of the Arduino microcontroller to create a grid system with thousands of sensors capable of monitoring and verifying mega-sized robotic and animatronics displays worthy of DisneyWorld.

We will be financing the project through, and through advance orders, which we're accepting as of now. The hardware will be $1000, including the device interface, and deliveries will begin in the 1st quarter of next year. In the 2nd quarter of 2014 we plan on releasing a record/playback application for $499.

For more information contact Ken Custer at 303-277-9840, or email Glen at

Glen Emerson Morris was a senior QA Consultant for SAP working on a new product to help automate compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley law, an attempt to make large corporations at least somewhat accountable to stockholders and the law.
He has worked as a technology consultant for Yahoo!, Ariba, WebMD, Inktomi, Adobe, Apple and Radius.

Copyright 1994 - 2011 by Glen Emerson Morris All Rights Reserved ' keywords: Internet advertising, Internet marketing, business, advertising, Internet, marketing. For more advertising and marketing help, news, resources and information visit our Home Page.

Back to top

Economic Indicators
Census 2010
Census Bureau
Health   Labor
Commerce Dept.

It's Time to Let
A Robot
Make Your Sales Pitch!
Roy the Robot
Funded by Kickstarter