Apple Seeking To Make Wireless Network Setup Easier

Discussion in 'MacRumors.com News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Mar 9, 2007.

  1. macrumors bot

    MacRumors

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    #1
    [​IMG]

    In a patent application revealed yesterday (#20070054616), Apple reveals that it is working on making configuring wireless networks, especially ones with devices with limited input/output capability, more simple.

    The system describes using RFID tags in networking equipment that would communicate basic configuration settings when the devices got close to one another. The devices would then be able to establish a rudimentary network based on that information and be able to automatically finish setting up a more complex and secure wireless network.

    Apple's innovative use of RFID appears to be aiming to simplify the setup of wireless devices (especially ones with limited user interfaces) while simultaneously promoting the use of secured wireless networks.
     
  2. macrumors Penryn

    Eidorian

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    #2
    That's an interesting idea on how to get the devices to recognize each other before you even have to set it up. I still love my extensive user interfaces though. Please don't get rid of them.
     
  3. macrumors G3

    bigandy

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    #3
    I'm really liking this idea. Anything to stop my parents phoning up for a detailed step-by-step from me each week when they managae, again, to factory reset their router :rolleyes:
     
  4. macrumors Penryn

    Eidorian

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    #4
    Have them backup their settings once they're set up. I also find it quite odd that they can unintentionally hold down the reset button for that long.
     
  5. Editor emeritus

    longofest

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    #5
    Delay in the article

    FYI: Sorry for the delay in the article. I happen to work with RFID and was working to get an expert interview (a PhD MIT grad), but I wasn't able to get it before now, so I decided to run the story anyways with just my insights (see the extended part of the story).
     
  6. macrumors G3

    bigandy

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    #6
    oh, i do, every time :rolleyes:

    they seem to have some magical inability to keep anything set up correctly.

    last time something went horribly wrong they flew me down to (near london) from scotland for the weekend, specifically to fix it. you should have seen the look on my dad's face when, within seconds of turning up, i'm saying "you really need to have the router plugged in to the phone socket..."

    :rolleyes:
     
  7. macrumors Penryn

    Eidorian

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    #7
    Once you have the router settings backed up it shouldn't be a problem to just restore them. Keep the file yourself in case they lose it too. The only pain left is to restore it from that configuration file.
     
  8. macrumors 603

    roland.g

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    #8
    I didn't think it could get much easier.
     
  9. macrumors 6502

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    #9
    interesting...

    Could be for connecting iPods... sort of like what the Zune can do.
     
  10. macrumors 68030

    Analog Kid

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    Mar 4, 2003
    #10
    Thanks. Maybe you can explain why they're using a second signaling channel to do this rather than negotiating over the primary network channel? Is this purely a security-through-proximity technique?

    Is this a passive backscatter RFID, or a full blown second RF channel?

    I'll admit I haven't actually looked at the patent yet, but I'm hoping to coax you into sharing more of your insights...
     
  11. macrumors 603

    roland.g

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    #11
    and/or for connecting iPhones though everything we've heard says that the iPhone won't utilize it's Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to sync any data, but will just use a charging cradle/dock which really doesn't make much sense.
     
  12. macrumors 6502

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    #12
    Yeah that too.
     
  13. macrumors 604

    Digital Skunk

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    #13
    Yeah!

    Yeah... do that and put it in my 12" MacBook Pro... or MacBook or something that is tiny and small so I can buy it for my girlfriend who is getting the most and then some out of her 12" PowerBook.
     
  14. macrumors 68030

    Analog Kid

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    #14
    Most likely not for connecting the iPhone to the Mac-- both have extensive UI capability. I'm thinking this is for connecting mice or keyboards-- something that doesn't have an interface to enter a password.
     
  15. macrumors 68000

    MrCrowbar

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    #15
    Sweet. This reminds me how you pair a Mac with a specific Apple remote right now. Just get very close to the Mac with the remote and hold the menu and rewind button, boom, remote is paired. You could just do the same with RFID: put your iPhone on top of your airport base station or a Mac sharing the Ethernet connection over Airport (love that feature by the way) and the devices are paired (maybe use a button to confirm, else it might get messy in a place where everything is close together, i.e. an office).

    I wouldn't have thought about using RFID to initiate a more complex wireless communtication, I really like the idea.
     
  16. macrumors 68000

    MrCrowbar

    Joined:
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    #16
    Sweet. This reminds me how you pair a Mac with a specific Apple remote right now. Just get very close to the Mac with the remote and hold the menu and rewind button, boom, remote is paired. You could just do the same with RFID: put your iPhone on top of your airport base station or a Mac sharing the Ethernet connection over Airport (love that feature by the way) and the devices are paired (maybe use a button to confirm, else it might get messy in a place where everything is close together, i.e. an office).

    I wouldn't have thought about using RFID to initiate a more complex wireless communtication, I really like the idea.
     
  17. macrumors 68040

    BoyBach

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    #17
    If it makes the 'Dark Art' of setting up a wireless network any easier, it get's my vote.

    (You can't rely on your younger brother to set it up for you forever! ;) )
     
  18. Editor emeritus

    longofest

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    #18
    Apple didn't talk much about the exact implementation of their RFID system. They didn't even mention which frequency they'd be using (LF, HF, UHF (EPC Gen2?)). Its most definitely would be a passive system though.

    Basically, the RFID tag is being used to store basic network information. I'm assuming SSID. If they are smart, they may also store a public key.

    Then, the RFID portion is done, and the devices will connect using wireless to communicate the rest of their settings. This is why I said it would be good of Apple to have included a public key in the RFID tag. this would enable the devices to talk relatively securely even over an unencrypted channel to exchange WPA keys. Then, the full wireless security framework would be set up.

    The biggest problem I see in the proposed solution by Apple is that an attacker in close proximity could get the connecting device to look at the attacker's RFID instead of the intended device. This would basically make the user's device connect automatically to the attacker's device. Oops! However, this would require an attacker in relative close proximity, and if they are further away than the user's connecting device, then they would need a higher gain output to try to trick the device. Its just one of the security implications Apple would need to work to prevent from happening in the field.
     
  19. macrumors 68040

    synth3tik

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    #19
    easier networks? I'm all for it:D
     
  20. macrumors regular

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    #20
    Apple sure seems to have a lot going on these days ....sounds like lots of fun gadgets coming down the pike. Of course it's all a conspiracy to keep me broke! (it's working)
     
  21. macrumors 65816

    iJawn108

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    #21
    I want security more than I want ease of use for networking thanks.
     
  22. macrumors regular

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    #22
    In the UK there is a handy trick of putting the "$" in front of some of the codes to make a router work on a mac:D
     
  23. macrumors 6502a

    failsafe1

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2003
    #23
    Could this be a magic connection for all the upcoming stuff? Connect the phone to the iTV and easily get the iTV to the computer? Could this make the iPhone into a universal remote and on and on?
     
  24. macrumors 65816

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    #24
    I'm sure Apple could make it easier but how much easier could it already be? Communicating with my COMPUSA (no-name) router is a breeze. Took me like 1 minute to set up (if that) and with my work's router. Every time I open up my MBP, it auto-detects and logs on. *shrugs*?
     
  25. macrumors 68020

    EagerDragon

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2006
    Location:
    MA, USA
    #25
    There is very little value in this. The same can be done via the wireless or bluetooth with the exception that you have to power the device.

    We already have way too many RFID tags in the environment. Your shoes, your clothes, your belt, your computer, your passport, your credit card, your gas pass, etc. These devices are not secured and can be read from a distance. People can track you and your habits.

    Just because you dont see the tags, does not mean they are not there. I highly suggest you fry them if you do not need them. See this http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/globalguerrillas/2006/01/weapons_the_rfi.html

    BTW I am a securuty consultant, I highly sugest you start zapping them if you do not need them.

    For the ones you must carry like the credit cards you may want to use something like this, but I have not tested them so not sure how effective they are: http://www.rpi-polymath.com/ducttape/RFIDWallet.php
     

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