Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) have been the stuff of fantasy for a long time. Remember the bulky headsets and long, snaking connector cords of the 1980s? But it’s becoming increasingly popular and approachable in today’s market - just consider the rampant success of Pokémon GO, the mobile AR game. Companies are starting to explore how VR/AR can help create a more attractive, immersive product for their customers.
With this exploration comes plenty of innovative development and QA testing work. And as this technology rapidly accelerates in advancements, it’s more essential for QA teams to understand how to test virtual reality applications and create effective augmented reality test cases.
VR/AR may still be a relatively new frontier, but that’s not holding back top providers from developing effective QA testing strategies in order to VR test software and test VR app products. We sat down with some of our top AR VR testing engineers to review what types of augmented reality and virtual reality test approaches are needed for VR/AR products and why.
What Is VR/AR?
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are often referenced together in discussions, but are not the same thing. Their acronyms are similar, and their similarities only increase with the continuation of technological advancements. That being said, VR and AR are still two differing concepts.
In virtual reality, users are completely immersed in a computer-generated reality. By wearing a head-mounted display or a VR headset, a user moves among virtual objects on the screen. Some VR technologies rely on a smartphone connection, such as Google Cardboard and Samsung Gear VR, while others like the Oculus Go are a standalone VR headset. Gaming and entertainment were early adopters of VR, which has since expanded across industries including the military, healthcare, business, education and engineering and construction.
In augmented reality, technology overlays digital information on the real world. Augmented reality does not provide a fully immersive virtual experience but rather provides digital enhancements upon the real world with images, text and other virtual information. AR can be experienced through devices such as AR glasses, smart lenses and heads-up displays as well as smartphones and tablets. Beyond entertainment, companies within the aviation, retail, automotive, healthcare and travel industries have already incorporated AR solutions.
Common Virtual Reality QA Challenges
QA teams can’t approach the augmented reality and virtual reality test process in the same way as other software applications. The platforms required for both AR and VR experiences require a completely different approach to successfully AR and VR test software systems.
Here are the challenges QA teams can expect to encounter when AR VR testing.
VR testing can often leave testers experiencing motion sickness, vision impairment and headaches. Thirty minutes is the recommended time frame to use AR or VR devices, which can create a backlog of tests. QA testers may spend more time reporting augmented reality and virtual reality bugs and less time testing the experience of the product. Furthermore, AR and VR QA testers must be supervised during testing to prevent injuries within the testing group, which can limit when the testing can take place.
Testing Too Late
QA teams often don’t have access to test VR software or review augmented reality test cases until the product is well underway in development. This leads to catching augmented reality defects and virtual reality bugs late in the development cycle. Without early QA testing, developers have less time to resolve issues and QA testers have even less time to validate fixes deployed to the test environment.
Multiple Testing Platforms
To effectively test VR software and AR applications, a multi-level analysis across multiple output streams is required. In other words, a QA tester must go beyond one platform of testing during AR and VR testing for accurate results. Testing must include:
- Testing the actual AR VR experience on both the device and desktop environment
- Reviewing tester conversation and body language during testing
- Gathering physiological data about the tester, as captured by the wearable device or test supervisor observation
Here’s How to Test Virtual Reality Applications
With all of these testing challenges to keep in mind, what’s the best way on how to test virtual reality applications and augmented reality software? Our top QA testing engineers recommend approaching the augmented reality and virtual reality test process with a systematic strategy that always keeps the holistic view of the product in mind.
Consider adding these approaches to your AR VR QA process:
User Specifications and Experience Testing
Before any testing begins, QA engineers sit down to review the VR/AR product’s scope requirements. After familiarizing themselves with the requirements, they prepare a storyboard of potential use cases. This helps the engineers understand all of the potential scenarios for user engagement. The exercise provides a holistic view of the product - far more thorough than a simple review of what wireframes can deliver.
The goal of VR is full immersion for the user. Even the smallest of virtual reality bugs can cause a hang-up in the user’s experience, so rigorous virtual reality QA testing and strong augmented reality test cases are important. AR apps add virtual objects or overlays to the real world, and any bug here can zap the product of its impact.
Real Device Testing
VR and AR often depend on specialized hardware. The only way to ensure the proper function of these products is to test using the devices listed in the requirements. These might include the Oculus Rift or the HTC Vive, both of which connect to personal computers for a powerfully immersive VR experience. Other hardware, like the Samsung Gear or Google Daydream, work with the user’s smartphone to create a more mobile VR experience. QASource offers a fully-outfitted testing lab where all of this testing is possible.
Using VR and AR products can come with serious physical consequences. Headaches, seizures, motion sickness, eye strain, and other bodily harm are a few of the worst-case scenarios that testers need to be on the lookout for. Though full immersion is the goal, it’s also vital to limit the discomfort of the user as much as possible - and, by extension, limit the liability of the company building the product.
Rigorous compatibility testing helps ensure that product teams do not face any surprises when they go to market. Compatibility testing your app helps measure the performance of the app when accessed by devices with lower system specifications, or on a device that it hasn’t been optimized for. It can also help catch dangerous non-functional issues, such as device overheating.
Not sure if your team can handle AR VR testing alone? Choose to partner with a QA services provider like QASource. Our experienced QA engineers are skilled in all types of manual testingand automation testing. With our team of performance testing experts, your business can accurately test your AR or VR software product and stay on schedule for launch to market. Get in touch with a QASource expert today.