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Testing Merchandise for Shopper Stories



For over 80 years, individuals have turned to Shopper Stories for trustworthy and authoritative assessments of merchandise earlier than they put their cash down. Immediately, the accountability for managing testing and scores for tech-containing merchandise falls to Maria Rerecich, senior director of product testing on the impartial nonprofit member group.

Rerecich, an IEEE member, joined Shopper Stories in 2013 after virtually three many years at Commonplace Microsystems Corp. (acquired in 2012 by Microchip Expertise). At SMSC she was liable for built-in circuit design, validation, and product engineering of silicon chips utilized in PCs.


There are apparent variations between the 2 jobs, Rerecich acknowledges. For starters, Shopper Stories charges merchandise; it doesn’t construct them. “We’re testing merchandise we don’t make and aren’t attempting to promote,” Rerecich says. “My groups are testing to check efficiency and verify if merchandise work as claimed, however we don’t need to attempt to repair them in the event that they don’t.”

Her 30-person division specifies checks and develops the scoring and scores, has roughly 30 individuals who work carefully with the operations individuals within the lab, the place the checks are executed. “We work with quite a lot of fascinating merchandise in all sorts of classes and typically must develop surprising checks,” she says.

One instance was a scenario referred to as Bendgate. “When the iPhone 6 got here out in September 2014, there have been stories that the bigger mannequin was bending when individuals put it of their rear pockets and sat on it,” Rerecich recollects. “A number of Bendgate movies have been posted of individuals bending telephones utilizing their thumbs. Whereas just a little flex could also be acceptable, you don’t need it to deform to the purpose the place it doesn’t come again, or to interrupt.”

This concern felt like an ideal match for the group’s methodologies and check lab assets, Rerecich says.

“Individuals’s thumbs aren’t calibrated. We needed to arrange a extra scientific check, quantify the forces wanted…and evaluate the iPhone 6 to different telephones. We had an Instron common testing machine, which does tensile and compression testing. We rigged it as much as do bending checks on half a dozen totally different telephones and fashions. We broke a number of telephones whereas doing testing.”

Preliminary bending-phone stories had began coming in on a Wednesday, and by that Friday, Rerecich’s workforce had developed and accomplished testing.

Former low- or no-tech shopper merchandise corresponding to doorbells and canine collars at the moment are a part of the ever-increasing Web of Issues gadgets Shopper Stories is now testing. Because of this, Rerecich’s mission has expanded to sort out privateness and knowledge safety issues.

“We’ve seen points in lots of shopper IoT merchandise associated to incomplete encryption, substandard authentication, or open vulnerabilities,” she says. “For instance, we’ve seen video doorbells and wi-fi residence safety cameras sending e-mail addresses, IP addresses, lists of instructions, community names, and even Wi-Fi passwords as unencrypted knowledge. Once we discover these [instances], we alert the producers, and in lots of circumstances they repair what we’ve discovered.”

She was one of many architects for the group’s knowledge privateness and safety initiative, and helped develop its Digital Commonplace framework of product testing standards for related services. She led a pilot check of a number of cell functions, which resulted in an app developer making speedy enhancements to guard customers’ knowledge and privateness of delicate private and medical data. Thus far, Rerecich estimates, greater than 500 merchandise have been examined and rated for privateness and safety.

Rerecich’s recommendation to college students and up to date graduates contains, “Study to touch-type nicely and shortly, since chances are you’ll spend extra time at a keyboard than in a lab.” Additionally, she urges college students to get uncovered to totally different areas of examine and various kinds of programs. “Chances are you’ll not know what you want and are good at till you’ve tried it. For me, that was [a] chip design course at MIT—however I had additionally taken a course associated to biomedical engineering as a result of I believed I needed to enter that. It’s good to maintain an open thoughts about totally different areas and study as a lot as you’ll be able to.”

This text seems within the June 2022 print subject as “Maria Rerecich.”

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