HotBug Detector: A Sleuth Against Smartphone Bugs

Market Opportunity

Have you ever left the house with your smartphone fully-charged, only to find the battery depleted several hours later? If so, it is likely that one or more apps, installed on your smartphone are energy-inefficient. For smartphone apps, there are two categories of energy-inefficiencies: energy-hotspots and energy-bugs. Energy-hotspots cause abnormally high energy-consumption, during the execution of an app, whereas energy-bugs cause sustained, yet avoidable, energy-consumption even-after the app has stopped execution. High-energy consumption alone is not a good indicator of inefficiency, as it could simply reveal that the app has energy-intensive functionality. Therefore, more sophisticated testing techniques are required to detect energy-hotspots and energy-bugs.


The Technology

A team from the School of Computing, NUS has developed the HotBug Detector, an invention that systematically looks for and detects energy-inefficiencies in smartphone apps. Their technique uses a software-hardware hybrid approach to automatically explore apps on smartphones and highlight the presence of energy hotspots and energy-bugs. This is relevant for app-developers conducting quality-assurance testing, before the app is put on the market.

The HotBug Detector is an automated test generation framework that identifies energy inefficiencies in smartphone apps. This framework systematically generates test inputs that are likely to capture both energy hotspots and energy bugs. The invention has been applied to the Android operating system and validated by finding energy inefficiencies within 30 free-to-download Android applications. Manual testing revealed a low rate of false positives. 


Applications and Advantages 

The HotBug Detector can be a crucial tool for smartphone app developers, looking to build energy-efficient applications. The tool automatically searches and detects for the presence of energy inefficiencies, so it can help generate high quality apps with considerably less testing effort. Additionally, due to the automated nature of this technique, a given app can be simultaneously tested on multiple devices, further reducing testing time and effort. 

With the growing popularity of smartphones, developers are creating more complex smartphone apps that change the way we work, play and live. New techniques that pinpoint problems that drain the limited smartphone battery will become crucial for developers keen on building better apps. Use of this invention will only increase as the global penetration of smartphone rises. 

NUS has applied for a patent for this technology and is seeking partners or licensors to further develop this technology and bring it to market.  


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