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I'm wanting to understand what is happening when a device needs configuring with WiFi credentials, but no other communication is apparent.

For example, with the Broadlink RM Mini3 WiFi IR Blaster it's a rather simple process: download and run the required app from the Play store, enter the WiFi details (SSID, Password), turn on the device and click connect within the app. A few seconds later, the device has been configured to run on the relevant network.

By what process is such a device configured when there appears no bluetooth connection etc. that would facilitate the initial connection.

  • To what are you referring by "the initial connection"? We're just a bit confused as you'd need a connection already to download that app from playstore. So are you asking how it could do that before having the WiFi set up – or did you download the app via mobile data and are just asking how it then manages to setup WiFi? – Izzy Dec 21 '17 at 9:04
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    @Izzy No, I think the question is about connecting another device to Wi-Fi, not the phone, when the device itself doesn't have a keyboard or similar for entering the SSID/passcode. The question is how the (app on the) phone connects to this device to give it the details. – Dan Hulme Dec 21 '17 at 13:11
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    Ah, I see: "Broadlink RM Mini3" is not the name of his Android device, but of an IR adapter – well, R4D4, you should have written that :) In that case, @DanHulme has hit the nail I'd say, thanks! Found a description and included a link, so future readers don't need to be as confused as I was #D – Izzy Dec 21 '17 at 16:27
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    @Izzy My apologies, yes, a bit of further explanation would not have hurt in that regard. Thank you for your perseverance. – R4D4 Jan 3 '18 at 15:22
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It's different for different devices. Some use Bluetooth or NFC, but as you've observed that's not what's happening in your case. The most common alternative is that the device you're configuring can itself act as a Wi-Fi access point (AP): it creates its own Wi-Fi network. Your phone connects to the device's Wi-Fi network and sends it the connection details for the network you actually want, possibly via an HTTP request to a simple web server running on the device. After that, the device shuts down its Wi-Fi AP and connects to the Wi-Fi network you configured.

If there's a network problem, the device should start its own AP again to let you connect and give it some new connection details.

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Dan has provided you the answer which addresses how your IR adapter connected

Readers may find the additional information below useful for general understanding


How do devices connect to Wi-Fi? Wi-Fi access points use open frequencies (that can be used by anyone without licence), typically 2 .4 and 5 GHz. On these frequencies they keep transmitting their presence, again typically 1000 times a second. For example, your cell phone hears them (that's how you see all networks around you, when you enable WiFi) and responds announcing it's presence. If it is an open network (no password) , device is connected else authentication is required

Links below for details

There are two aspects:

  • Establishing the connection

  • Authentication

Establishing the connection:From our sister Information Security site How do cellphones discover wireless APs? you can read the details of how it is done. It uses 802 .11 protocol to transmit beacon frames which do not require prior communication to be established since it uses open frequency -See WiFi spectrum section which is available to any device for use

Authentication: There is a 4 way authentication. Details are described in linked Wiki

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