Selecting a method to connect (or provision) a device with a Wi-Fi network is a critical aspect of Wi-Fi product design. Get provisioning wrong, and users will have a poor out-of-box experience which can lead to a high return rate or even product failure in the market.
The provisioning decision is complicated by the fact that embedded devices have a variety of requirements that must be satisfied to make the product useable and viable. Requirements impacting provisioning methods include, but are not limited to:
- Will the product have a display?
- Are buttons or keys available?
- Will a built in webserver be required?
- Does the power supply allow for 'always-on' availability?
To address product design constraints, various methods are available to provision a Wi-Fi device. Some of these methods are outlined below. ACKme Wi-Fi solutions implement all of these provisioning methods, offering developers the flexibility to choose a method or methods best suited to optimising product user experience.
WPS - Wi-Fi Protected Setup
Put simply, WPS is a push button provisioning mechanism. A user first presses a push button on the Wi-Fi router or access point (AP), then starts the WPS provisioning mechanism on the end device. The AP and device establish a secure wireless link and the AP passes the network 'credentials' to the device, the credentials include the SSID (network name) and the WPA2 passphrase (network password). Devices implementing WPS typically use a push button or touchscreen to allow users to initiate the WPS process. All ACKme Wi-Fi solutions support WPS.
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CLI - Command Line Interface
When an external microprocessor is available, a command line interface enables configuration of an ACKme module or device directly. CLI provisioning is often chosen when the end-product includes a display and keyboard or touchscreen. ACKme modules support CLI provisioning with the use of the WiConnect command: setup cmd
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In scenarios where a network client such as a smartphone, tablet or computer are available, a web browser may be used to enter network credentials to provision the product.
When power is first applied to a new product, or when a setup button is pressed, the product starts a self-hosted Wi-Fi network and web server. The user connects a smartphone or other Wi-Fi client to the self-hosted network, then connects to the web server using a web browser.
The setup web page provides an option to select the home Wi-Fi network the product will connect with, and the user enters the network password. After the credentials are saved, the product automatically shuts down the self-hosted network and joins the home network as a client.