Wi-Fi Direct protocol to ease peer-to-peer WiFi connections

Wi-Fi logoThe Wi-Fi Alliance is close to finalizing a direct peer-to-peer connection standard for WiFi-enabled devices. The standard could potentially supplant Bluetooth beginning as early as 2010.

The Wi-Fi Alliance has announced a new way for WiFi-enabled devices to connect to one another, even in the absence of a WiFi base station. The new protocol, dubbed "Wi-Fi Direct," will allow any device that implements the standard to connect directly to another device to send and receive data.

Previously codenamed "Wi-Fi peer to peer," the technology allows any device with WiFi to easily connect to another, such as a cell phone or camera to a printer, or even a keyboard or mouse to a computer. Devices can connect one-to-one or in a group. According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, devices implementing the new standard will even be able to connect to legacy WiFi devices in most cases.

"Wi-Fi Direct represents a leap forward for our industry," said Wi-Fi Alliance executive director Edgar Figueroa in a statement. "Wi-Fi users worldwide will benefit from a single-technology solution to transfer content and share applications quickly and easily among devices, even when a Wi-Fi access point isn't available. The impact is that Wi-Fi will become even more pervasive and useful for consumers and across the enterprise."

The technology seems to compete directly with Bluetooth, which has been the most common standard for direct peer-to-peer device connections. The new Bluetooth 3.0 standard even includes the ability to switch to WiFi protocols for large, sustained data transfers. Like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi Direct devices can discover each other automatically and "advertise" available services. Given these features, Wi-Fi Direct could potentially eliminate the need for implementing both standards in most devices.

A side benefit of Wi-Fi Direct is that it can operate at higher speeds and greater distances than Bluetooth, though Bluetooth typically uses far less power than WiFi. Furthermore, the standard is aimed at enterprise use as well as consumer use, with the inclusion of enterprise management features and WPA2 security.

The Wi-Fi Direct specification is expected to be published as soon as it is finalized and approved by the Wi-Fi Alliance members, and certification will begin in 2010.

Source: ars technica

Tags: Wi-Fi

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