We have recently explored how to connect – wireless – to embedded devices scattered across factories and warehouses. Windows Embedded Handheld (the successor of Mobile 6.5) is a typical choice of OS of such devices, and most of them can have Bluetooth and WiFi on board – so these technologies are obvious choices. What they don’t have is a SIM chip in every device and a data plan. Their users have laptops (PCs and Macs), iPads, iPhones, Android phones and tablets, and can physically walk in the same room where devices are located.
Here’s what we found.
WiFi Infrastructure mode + DHCP
This is the obvious choice working with all platforms (Windows 7 PC, Mac OSX, iOS, Android). You need to have a wireless router in infrastructure mode, and assign addresses via DHCP. The wireless router must be in range both of the device and the PC (one obvious place is to plug it near the device itself)
Once both the device and the PC are in the same LAN, the device can broadcast information about itself via some discovery protocol: UPnP, Bonjour, or you can write a simple custom UDP-based discovery mechanism. It is easy to write a client that uses this information, on all platforms.