Apple Cuts RFID A Break, Patents Auto-Handshake Networking

I'm always impressed by network engineers.  I've set up a few wireless networks myself, and done a little troubleshooting for friends who are having connection issues, but I'd never dare call myself anything other than a beginner (or "a beginner who recognises some of the words but otherwise hasn't a clue" perhaps).  Harder than fixing a recalcitrant router yourself, however, is explaining to someone else what they need to do in order to get it working.  Apple have filed a patent that might go some way to circumnavigating that situation; not by making the process itself any easier, really, but by making the networked equipment do it itself.

The system uses short-range RFID tags to identify nodes on the network (which could be anything from wireless audio/video clients like the iTV to remote controls to print servers) to the main router just by holding them close together.  They do all the complicated MAC filtering, WPA encryption setup and general configuration; you get to enjoy the cable-free goodness without having to worry that your broadband is being hijacked by the pervert next door.

It's interesting that this is perhaps the first consumer implementation of RFID that hasn't made me recoil in horror (either from the threat of remotely-identifiable passports or the squick factor of implanting a beacon chip into your arm).  Hrmpf point out that Apple would need to be careful not to make the range of each device so great that undesirables could scan your house or handbag and identify wealthy theft targets; personally, I think the bigger issue is how they brand and describe any eventual product using the technology. 

RFID is increasingly becoming the latest buzz-word for Big Brother style ubiquitous observation, the application ending up synonymous with the system itself, and shoppers will need real education so that they can differentiate between the tiny chips that help them keep their WiFi secure and the chips that make sure they pay for the router before they step out of the store.

Apple suggests RFID to allow 'easy' wireless network setup and security [hrmpf.com]