Electronic Design

Automated Testing Of Handheld Information Devices Speeds Up Time-To-Market

Many companies are hustling to use their applications on the newest handheld information devices. Unfortunately for them, many manual testing bottlenecks hinder them from meeting time-to-market windows of opportunity. That's the opinion of Martin Haun, president and chief executive officer of TestQuest, Eden Prairie, Minn.

With this in mind, TestQuest has shifted its focus to the handheld information-appliance field. The company has created new software capabilities that will allow developers to reduce the testing cycles needed for these devices. "These capabilities virtually eliminate the manual testing bottleneck in getting solutions to market," states Haun.

The company claims the automated testing capabilities provided by its TestQuest Pro modules are a powerful alternative to manual testing. Each TestQuest Pro module emulates the human testing of touch-panels, keypads, and LCDs. This helps designers of appliances based on Palm, RIM, PocketPC, and other handheld platforms get their designs to market quicker (see the figure). These platforms are used for the majority of handheld information appliances. TestQuest customizes each TestQuest Pro module to the specific appliance under test, with all of the testing being done in software.

The new touch-panel simulation modules test functions that are typically found on Palm Pilots, RIM, PocketPCs, and other handheld devices. Included among them are graffiti, stylus use, and navigation.

Other additions to TestQuest Pro include web access to test results and remote initiation of tests from programs such as Microsoft Excel. TestQuest customers can also now select a lower-cost "test execution only" version of TestQuest Pro. This option doesn't include the Script Recorder test development environment. "Information-appliance manufacturers and software developers will find that TestQuest Pro can reduce their design test cycles from weeks to days or even hours," explains Prabha Gopinath, TestQuest's chief technical officer.

Condensed product cycles and the frequent change of Internet-related technologies are impacting shipment delays. To avoid the financial repercussions that coincide with these delays, many manufacturers are migrating toward automated testing.

To develop its test modules, TestQuest has been working with software and information-appliance customers like Wyse, Netpliance, Motorola, and Phoenix Technologies. Companies such as these offer interactive products with a high degree of interconnected system components. These products need to interconnect with web, Java, Windows CE, Palm, and other technologies. This makes it difficult to achieve their testing requirements manually.

TestQuest Pro maintains a zero footprint on systems being tested. It also creates a complete development and run-time environment that helps users create and execute test scripts. In addition, the device allows users to target an interface subsystem, which can provide nonintrusive simulation and monitoring of the system.

TestQuest Pro is built on a standard PC with a number of software modules and interface options. It runs unattended, which raises the test cycle to 24 hours a day and allows for increased testing during a fixed test phase.

For more information, contact TestQuest at (952) 930-4114, or visit its web site at www.testquest.com.

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