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Self-configuring WiFi stack eases device setup

May 1, 2006 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — views

[Updated May 3] — Wireless networking specialist Devicescape has added standards-based self-configuration capabilities to its WiFi stacks for consumer electronic devices and wireless infrastructure products, including those based on Linux. The “Easy Access” capabilities are based on Wi-Fi Alliance standards, and make setting up secure, WPA2-encrypted wireless networking trivial, the company… claims.

Devicescape's VP of marketing, Glenn Flinchbaugh, explains, “If you have a WiFi router in your house, and a WiFi device such as laptop, music streamer, or handheld, when it comes in range of a WiFi network, it'll pop up a message saying, 'Do you want to connect?' You push a button on the client, and a button on the router, and voila, you have a secure, encrypted connection. It saves you the trouble of dealing with WEP codes, WPA keys, SSIDs, and so forth.”

Where physical security is a concern, devices (enrollees) and access points/authentication systems (registrars) equipped with Easy Access can be configured to require an 8-digit PIN (personal identification number), which is typed into the device, and then entered into the router's web browser interface.

Devicescape says its Easy Access technology is strategic for two reasons. The first is a trend toward devices accessing web services directly, through wireless interfaces, rather than going through an intermediary PC. Examples include music players that download and cameras that upload digital content. Camera and music-player users can hardly be expected to deal with dotted quad notation and subnet masks, let alone dhcp leases and WPA2 keys, the company points out.

The second is that even among computer users, networking and networking security protocols are not well-understood. Flinchbaugh says that only 20 percent of home WiFi networks use any security at all, and that consumer confusion causes a “shocking” 30 percent of all wireless networking equipment to be returned. Meanwhile, 80 percent of consumer electronics support-calls are related to network connectivity issues, Devicescape asserts.

Devicescape's Easy Access capabilities are based on a Wi-Fi Alliance standard currently codenamed “Simple Config,” but likely to be renamed when a certification program is set up later this year. The Simple Config project was initiated by large companies, Flinchbaugh says, including Intel, Pharoah, and Microsoft.

Flinchbaugh expects the Simple Config certification process to be finalized by August, with products based on it reaching market by the holidays. “In the meantime, the stack is available to devicemakers,” he says. “If there are things that aren't quite right, we'll provide updates.”

Gemma Tedesco, senior analyst at In-Stat, stated, “Device manufacturers that leverage industry-standard technology can deliver service-enabled devices such as wireless digital cameras or personal media players with improved innovation, time to market, support costs, and end-customer acceptance.”

In other news, Devicescape recently donated an advanced WiFi driver to the Linux kernel project, saying it hoped to help remove an obstacle toward wider deployment of Linux in the multimedia device category.


Evaluation versions of Devicescape's Secure Wireless Client Platform and Wireless Infrastructure Platform with Easy Access technology are currently available to customers. The portable stacks support a range of architectures and operating systems, including Linux.

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