The Uses of Automated Testing Software: Integrating a GNSS Receiver

By Spirent On September 4, 2012
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For manufacturers of location-aware devices, the decision on where to place the GPS/GNSS receiver within the overall product design is a critical one.

“You’re holding it wrong”

Many people will remember the problematic Apple iPhone 4 design that resulted in dropped calls if the handset was held “the wrong way”. Earlier this year it was Samsung’s turn, as issues with the location of the GPS antenna in its Galaxy S III smartphone prompted the company to issue instructions on how to hold the device to ensure the GPS receiver continued to function.

And Apple and Samsung are by no means alone – there’s an entire blog devoted to performance issues experienced with various smartphones when they’re held a certain way.

Thorough testing is vital

Issues like these are not only embarrassing for manufacturers, they can also – if sufficiently serious –tarnish commercial reputations and dent market share. These high-profile examples underscore the need for thorough, iterative testing of design prototypes in the lab to ensure that when the finished product comes to market, it functions according to customers’ needs and expectations.

Many components, little space

With many devices now incorporating multiple functions in a compact form factor, one of the roles of the R&D test engineer is to ensure that the individual electronic components are ideally placed within the overall system design – especially when it comes to components that receive and transmit radio-frequency signals outside the device, such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, NFC and GPS/GNSS.

As commercial pressures mean new devices must be brought to market faster, R&D labs need to find more efficient ways of making the many hundreds of thousands of iterative performance tests that will ensure the finished device functions as desired.

Reducing the time and cost of lab testing

Spirent’s TestDrive-GNSS software makes lab testing faster and less costly by automating the test process when using a Spirent simulator to generate a signal mimicking a GPS or other satellite constellation. To save time, TestDrive-GNSS will automatically configure the instruments in the system, step through test sequences and suites of tests, and then process and store the results.

Manufacturers who need to test and re-test different device designs to decide where and how to place the GPS receiver can gain significant commercial advantages from using TestDrive-GNSS to automate the test process, including:

  • Bring products to market faster: speed up iterative testing for faster development
  • Ensure optimum design: test many configurations and permutations within a tight timescale
  • Gain a night shift: run tests overnight with no human intervention required
  • Get useful insight: automated storage and reporting of test results can bring interesting performance trends to light, which can then feed back into product design
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