‘Wi-Fi Direct’ to compete with Bluetooth?

The Wi-Fi Alliance is nearing completion of a new specification to enable Wi-Fi devices to connect to one another without joining a traditional home, office, or hotspot network.

The Wi-Fi Alliance expects to begin certification for this new specification in mid-2010, and products which achieve the certification will be designated Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Wi-Fi Direct.

The specification, previously code-named “Wi-Fi peer-to-peer,” can be implemented in any Wi-Fi device, from mobile phones, cameras, printers, and notebook computers, to human interface devices such as keyboards and headphones.

Significantly, devices that have been certified to the new specification will also be able to create connections with hundreds of millions of Wi-Fi CERTIFIED legacy devices already in use. Devices will be able to make a one-to-one connection, or a group of several devices can connect simultaneously.

The specification targets both consumer electronics and enterprise applications, provides management features for enterprise environments, and includes WPA2 security. Devices that support the specification will be able to discover one another and advertise available services.

Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Wi-Fi Direct devices will support typical Wi-Fi ranges and the same data rates as can be achieved with an infrastructure connection, so devices can connect from across a home or office and conduct bandwidth-hungry tasks with ease.

The Wi-Fi Alliance plans to publish its peer-to-peer specification upon completion, and will begin certifying devices for the Wi-Fi Direct designation in 2010.  Only Wi-Fi Alliance member companies will be able to certify devices to the new specification.

The implementation potentially threatens Bluetooth as it fulfills largely the same role but transfers at Wi-Fi speeds, which in the case of 802.11n can be 30 times faster than 3Mbps Bluetooth in real-world conditions. However, Bluetooth typically uses much less power and is more likely to be used for input and other devices that aren’t dependent on speed.

Source: Wi-Fi Alliance, Electronista.

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