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I am aware of Wake on LAN, but that has been ruled out as it requires a device to have an app installed (doesn't it?).

A friend wants to develop an access point and wants to be able to wake any sleeping devices in range.

I don't think that that is at all possible, but would be happy to be proved wrong.

In fact, I don't see how he would even know that a device was in the area unless it was using his access point or was open for BlueTooth pairing.

Can what he wants be done? Note that these are random, passing 'phones, so we cannot expect them to have any app installed.

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    You are right. Waking a sleeping phone requires them to receive some sort of notification that turns the screen on (alarm or a phone call). If he wants to boot devices that are turned off (Wake on LAN) then this is not possible, because no phone actively connects to a WiFi network when turned off. Most phones don't even have a wake up procedure in their bootloader and only holding the power button can turn them on. – GiantTree Feb 23 '16 at 14:15
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No. If you could do this it would be a huge security flaw. You could use it to run down the batteries of all phones in range of your device by continually waking them up.

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