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Testing Bluetooth IoT

March 9, 2018
Bluetooth is one of the most popular wireless protocols for the Internet of Things, which means proper testing of these devices is essential.

Systems are becoming more compact with designers cramming more hardware into ever-shrinking packages. Take NXP’s new IoT-on-a-Chip (Fig. 1) solution. This system-in-package (SIP) combines an i.MX Cortex-A7 application processor with high-bandwidth, dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth wireless support. The SIP incorporates advanced security support, including secure boot, tamper detection and response, and cryptographic acceleration.

1. NXP’s IoT-on-a-Chip adds Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support to an i.MX in a compact, 14- by 14-mm SIP form factor.

Bluetooth has become one of the IoT wireless communication mainstays, especially went it comes to wearable IoT. Making sure Bluetooth implementations meet the standards requires test equipment and software support.

Rohde & Schwarz’s CMW270 wireless connectivity tester (Fig. 2) handles this task, including over-the-air (OTA) testing for Bluetooth and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE). With its 160-MHz bandwidth, it can also take on Zigbee, Wi-Fi, and GNSS. It’s qualified by the Bluetooth SIG.

2. Rohde & Schwarz’s CMW270 wireless connectivity tester handles over-the-air (OTA) testing of Bluetooth LE devices.

The system can handle Bluetooth test mode and RF pre-qualification testing, as well as test automation of the RF testing process. This includes generation of detailed test reports. The Wi-Fi support is able to simulate an access point (AP) or station (client).

The Bluetooth SIG specified a direct test mode via a control line within the standard. Unfortunately it didn’t specify an OTA signaling test mode. This platform provides a solution for BLE signaling tests, facilitating device and component tests for manufacturers. This is useful because many small Bluetooth LE devices offer no port or interface to connect a control line.

Teledyne-Lecroy’s Frontline Harmony LE Tester (Fig. 3) is a bit more focused. It’s designed to handle BLE conformance testing as well as BLE 4.0, 4.1, 4.2, and 5 support. The tester is an integrated hardware and software solution for Bluetooth protocol qualification testing systems that features a Test Manager, Upper Tester, and Lower Tester. The Test Manager can handle SIG-compliant and customer-specific test scripts. It generates validated compliance reporting suitable for submission to the Bluetooth SIG for certification. This includes a complete log of test case validations and verdicts.

3. The Frontline Harmony LE Tester from Teledyne-LeCroy handles Bluetooth LE conformance testing.

The Frontline Harmony LE Tester delivers all of the low-energy HCI and Link Layer tests needed to qualify a low-energy device. The system can handle multiple implementation-under-test (IUT) configurations. It also provides automated error recovery of IUT from failures that occur during testing. This prevents cascade of failures and generation of "false-negative" results.

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