Wi-Fi Devices and Connections

Wireless Connections Using Radio Waves

Wi-Fi allows an electronic apparatus to wirelessly exchange data using radio waves using a computer network, which also includes high-speed Internet links. The Wi-Fi Alliance has defined Wi-Fi as being a "wireless local area network (WLAN) device" based upon the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers' standards, (IEEE 802.11)". However, as most of today's WLANs are based upon these standards, the word "Wi-Fi" is generally used as a synonym meaning "WLAN".

Wi-Fi Logo
Wi-Fi Alliance Logo
Wi-Fi has a past tartan security history. Its early encryption system, called Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP), was easy to break. Improved and higher quality protocols, namely WPA and WPA2, were supplemented later. Although, an optional feature released in 2007, named Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS), contains a security flaw that lets a remote attacker obtain WPA or WPA2 password of the router in only a few hours for most set-ups. Some manufacturers recommend turning the WPS feature off. The Wi-Fi Alliance has subsequently updated the testing plan and certification process to assure all recently certified devices withstand forced AP PIN attacks.

An apparatus that can employ Wi-Fi (like a digital audio player, smartphone, tablet, video-game console or personal computer) can link up to a network source like the Internet using a wireless network entry spot. Such an access hotspot contains a range of around 65 feet indoors with a larger range outdoors. Hotspot coverage can be made up of a small area like a solitary room with walls blocking radio waves or it may be as great as several square miles.

This is accomplished by using many overlapping access points. "Wi-Fi" is trademarked by the Wi-Fi Alliance which is the brand label for devices employing the IEEE 802.11 family standards. Only Wi-Fi devices that have successfully completed the Wi-Fi Alliance interoperability certificated process may employ the "Wi-Fi CERTIFIED" trademark and designation.

To interface with a Wi-Fi LAN, the computer must contain a wireless interface network controller. When the computer and the interface controller are combined they are called a station. Every station shares a single channel for radio frequency communications. Transmissions occurring on a particular channel are subsequently received by every station within range. The hardware doesn't let the user know the transmission was conveyed and therefore is labeled a best-effort delivery method. A carrier wave transmits the data using packets, called "Ethernet frames". Every station is continuously tuned to this channel for radio frequency communications to acquire available transmissions.

Wi-Fi modules that are embedded have become increasingly available over the last couple of years that make use of a system operating in real-time, offering a simple way of connecting any device which contains and communicates using a serial port to be wirelessly enabled. This allows for the design of uncomplicated monitoring devices. For example; a portable ECG apparatus monitoring a patient in their home. This particular Wi-Fi enabled apparatus can communicate using the Internet. These Wi-Fi elements are created by OEMs so implementers only require minimum knowledge of Wi-Fi to deliver product Wi-Fi connectivity. ✓

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