The primary function of the CA is to detect when the device is in range of a ZipKey network, connect to that network, and communicate with the Cirrent cloud, in order to download private network credentials and move over to the user's private Wi-Fi network.
The WCM also support alternative onboarding mechanisms, in case the device is not in range of a ZipKey network when it is turned on. These alternative onboarding mechanisms include:
- SoftAP - turning on a temporary access point that the mobile app can associate with, to pass the private network credentials to the device. If you don't want to use SoftAP, you can disable this feature in the
- BLE - if the device supports Bluetooth Low Energy, you can use BLE instead of SoftAP to pass the private network credentials to the device. BLE is enabled via the
wcm_agent.conffile. (BLE is supported in WCM/CA 1.2 and above.)
- CA API - the CA has a C and a script API, so that you can pass credentials to the CA from your software running on the device, if your device supports a different onboarding mechanism (e.g. sound detection). You can also initiate WPS via the CA API.
The CA can be configured to use two different radios (one for its own connection, and the other for the SoftAP) or the CA can be configured to use one radio in shared or single channel mode, if your device only has a single radio or the AP and STA modes need to be on the same channel, and you wish to enable softAP.
The CA can also be configured to become a ZipKey hotspot when it is on the private network. This can be useful if you wish to onboard multiple devices, and the devices are not in range of a ZipKey network. Onboard the first device using SoftAP or some other local onboarding mechanism. Once it is on the private network, it can bring up a ZipKey network, so that the other devices can connect to it, to talk to the Cirrent cloud. You can limit the ZipKey AP so that it can only be used by other devices associated with the same account (a private ZipKey AP), or you can set it up so that all nearby ZipKey-enabled devices can use it to onboard to the user's private network (a public ZipKey AP). Contact Cirrent if you would like to enable your device as a public ZipKey AP, as there may be some business benefits for you.
Your app can instruct the CA, via our cloud, to initiate the WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) process to onboard the device without the user having to enter the private network credentials. The user needs to press the button on the router at the same time as the app tells the CA to initiate WPS. We don't recommend this approach, as it can be quite error-prone and hard to troubleshoot, and there are security concerns associated with WPS, so not all routers support it. The Cirrent cloud-based approach to delivering private network credentials is more secure, and delivers a much better user experience while onboarding connected products.