Testing the Virtual Reality Software: Tendencies vs. Challenges
Enthusiasm over VR content production evolves, the assumptions like “VR could become a transformative technology one day” have changed now saying “VR is a new genre shaping each and every area of our lives with just a headset.”
With the introduction of Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Samsung Gear, Google Daydream, people joined a fantasy world living through real experiences. Today the devices joined us in our daily activities from shopping to interior design. Our message is for those super-thrilled about the tendency: the value of VR software quality will be directly proportional to the popularity of virtual reality solutions on the market.
“Virtual reality is the ‘ultimate empathy machine’. These experiences are more than documentaries. They’re opportunities to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.”
Chris Milk, Founder and CEO of WITHIN
Virtual Reality Testing
The market has already reached $16.8 billion in the U.S., and Statista expects the VR/AR market share to grow drastically, eclipsing to $160Bn by 2023.
As long as VR/AR area is gaining traction, we see two reasons why should VR-solution providers pay much attention to testing their projects.
- User Experience. With the advances of VR/AR, even small problems with usability spoil the fun. Negative impressions are powerful; usually, people avoid experiencing them again.
- Responsibility. VR tech is no more a just game industry driver. It is going to shape our future in almost every area, we bet you didn`t expect some of them to be on this list. 🙂 A wide range of industries covered brings about responsibility for the services delivered with the help of VR, especially those related to healthcare.
Real device testing
Since an interactive computer-generated experience continues winning the hearts from all over the world, the range of devices to test VR applications has grown as well. This is the reason why software testing companies are trying to add comfort to the use of VR-related gadgets. As soon as developers are done creating a fiction world, an app is handed over to the QA engineers who challenge the software against the variety of scenarios. Virtual reality testing is always a product-oriented process, yet usually, the two platform types are involved:
- Traditional platforms.
This is the way for QA engineers to check if VR functions correctly on a high-end PC and console devices, typically PlayStation, Xbox. Such cases might involve testing if a game or VR-based app accurately displays on the headset. At times when motion controller device is added, QA engineers detect motion inconsistencies if any. Since immersive experience is at the core of VR technology, testing specialists provide recommendations on the conditions convenient to interact with the virtual world.
- Mobile platforms.
Google Cardboard, Google Daydream View, Samsung Gear are among the devices that enable 3D experiences in co-functioning with smartphones. Along with the core functional features of VR apps, mobile hardware testing includes checking memory leaks, network impact, battery, and power consumption issues when VR app is active. Notably, smartphone users deal with disruptive calls and messages, which often interfere with the ongoing 3D experience. And this is one more point worth attention.
For sure, 3D space goes beyond standard interface structure. While GUI testing covers common design elements (menus, icons, toolbars), testing VR content requires a somewhat different approach. Immersive technology is about a high-standard 360⁰ overview, correct video & audio performance, clear textual part, and non-glitchy graphics.
Not every QA outsourcing company would offer to test the software with user focus groups. But QA vendor is not the only option to conduct VR user testing, in-house project team often successfully goes through this stage of product quality assurance. Yet comfort and engagement are the key points characterizing high-standard VR app. Focus groups are gathered under gender, age, experience with VR tech, and reflect the target demographics of a future product. Along with UX testing, QA engineers collect general subjective reviews on the product, including navigation convenience and overall content consistency.
Challenges on the Way
Sometimes it’s difficult to test the product independently, especially given the very tight deadlines. Often, this is the reason to request QA testing services, since companies specialized in software testing provide with both: expert review and the necessary equipment to check VR product. But we see the point in discussing the major hurdles imposed once the project relocates to the stage of testing.
Although VR is great entertainment, it still imposes safety risks. The immersive environment isn`t the one we`re used to, people experience motion sickness, headaches, vision difficulties after the prolonged contact with virtual rooms. Although 30 minutes is a commonly accepted time-frame to wear a headset, QA engineers will recommend the desired period to break. Since testing any VR project requires a user-oriented strategy, QA specialists also experience the physical impact of VR wearables. Breaks must be done frequently (every 30 minutes), bug reporting usually replaces testing to avoid health risks. Often, there is a QA engineer to assist and supervise the process, preventing the injuries of a testing group. At this point, the team determines the level of product immersion comfortable for a user.
Testing started late.
We always recommend beginning development and QA strategy together, regardless of the project type. Interactions, 360⁰ overview, animation, transitions are the key features of every VR product for both teams to discuss. Although independent testing of the ready-made software is still a common practice, the detected defects just before the release might be a challenge.
For the Finals
There you have it. The potential impact of VR is hard to predict, although the latest news shows the technology shaking up our daily activities. Anyway, quality-focus has never been a bad idea 🙂 Good luck with your projects!