In a wireless world, users can establish ad hoc virtual connections between devices that are unhampered bycables. This process is known as spontaneous device association. A wide range of interactive protocols andtechniques have been demonstrated in both research and practice, predominantly with a focus on securityaspects. In this article, we survey spontaneous device association with respect to the user interaction itinvolves. We use a novel taxonomy to structure the survey with respect to the different conceptual modelsand types of user action employed for device association. Within this framework, we provide an in-depthsurvey of existing techniques discussing their individual characteristics, benefits and issues.