SmartConfig allows smartphones to fill the SSID and password in the unencrypted header of the MAC packet according to a certain encoding format, and send them in segments to the IoT device in multiple times by broadcasting and multicasting. Generally, we need to install an application on the smartphone for protocol interaction between the two parties. The steps of SmartConfig network configuration are shown in Figure 7.23.

Figure 7.23. Steps of SmartConfig network configuration

The frame format of MAC layer in IEEE 802.11 allows for clear identification of LL payload data, which includes the header and data of the network layer. This makes it possible to immediately extract and calculate the length of the payload data as soon as the MAC frames are received. The payload data here is usually the password. Figure 7.24 shows the packet structure of SmartConfig network configuration.

Figure 7.24. Packet structure of SmartConfig network configuration

Table 7.2 explains the fields of the data packet of SmartConfig network configuration.

Table 7.2. Fields of the data packet of SmartConfig network configuration

Data FrameDescription
DATarget MAC Address
SASource MAC Address
LENGTHPayload Data Length
SNAP3 B for Manufacturer Code and 2 B for Protocol Type
DATAPayload Data
FCSFrame Check Sequence

The sender usually uses the following methods to send data.

UDP broadcasting

The MAC frame format of IEEE 802.11 ensures that the DA, SA, LENGTH, LLC, SNAP, and FCS fields are always visible to wireless signal monitors to acquire valid information, regardless of whether the channels are encrypted. When broadcasting, the sender is limited by the operating system, leaving only the LENGTH field at its disposal. However, by specifying a length-encoded communication protocol, a LENGTH field is enough for the sender to transmit the data needed.

UDP multicasting

The multicast address is a reserved class D address, with a range of to The mapping between IP and MAC addresses is accomplished by setting the first 25 bits of the MAC address to 01.00.5E, while the last 23 bits of the MAC address corresponding to the bits of the IP address. As a result, the sender can encode data in the last 23 bits of the multicast IP and transmit it through the multicast packet for the receiver to decode.

SmartConfig offers user-friendly, smooth experience, but it places stringent requirements on the compatibility of smartphones and routers. For example, some routers may disable broadcast/multicast packet forwarding by default, preventing devices from receiving packets forwarded by the router. In other cases, different frequency bands used by smartphones and IoT devices can also result in configuration failure. If a smartphone is connected to a router using a 5 GHz frequency band, a device using the 2.4 GHz band may not be able to receive data. Such uncontrollable factors can significantly reduce overall compatibility and make it hard to successfully configure the network.


The SmartConfig mechanisms developed by Espressif are:

  • ESP-TOUCH V2: UDP broadcast and multicast encoding.

  • ESP-TOUCH: UDP broadcast encoding.

  • AIRKISS: WeChat mini program.

📝 Source code

In-depth introduction to SmartConfig will be given later together with Wi-Fi programming. Visit to find the example code for examples/wifi/smart_config.