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Discovering the Upcoming Wi-Fi Direct Standard

Article Description

See how you'll benefit from this new Wi-Fi standard. Eric Geier shows you how it compares with Bluetooth and the existing Wi-Fi ad-hoc networking. Plus you'll discover its downsides and negative impacts.

By Eric Geier

Wi-Fi Direct is a standard being developed by the Wi-Fi Alliance, which should be completed and out in the market any week now. It allows two or more Wi-Fi devices to communicate directly without a wireless access point (AP) or wireless router. They could then, for example, share files, print, or sync.

You should note that Wi-Fi Direct isn't intended to replace the traditional wireless AP or router. It's targeted more for mobile sharing. It will let you more easily connect and share when away from the home or office.

Since the Wi-Fi Alliance's announcement of Wi-Fi Direct, many chipset manufacturers have quickly created their own similar peer-to-peer sharing feature. Examples include Atheros's Direct Connect, Intel's My WiFi Technology, and Marvel's Mobile Hotspot. Each should be easily upgradeable to the final specification when it becomes available.

Wi-Fi Direct Devices and Uses

All different types of devices will support the standard. There might be laptops, desktop PCs, mobile phones, digital cameras, gaming systems, projectors, sensors, TVs, displays, headphones, and more.

Wi-Fi Direct has a wide range of uses and applications. You might be able to quickly share photos between Wi-Fi[nd]equipped digital cameras or camera phones, right at the party or event. Businesses could set up temporary networks in the field or at trade shows.

Wi-Fi Direct could also aid in simple file sharing, even if a traditional Wi-Fi network is around. For instance, say a friend comes over and wants to display some photos from his smartphone to your TV. Instead of having to fork over your private encryption password for the traditional network, you could connect the phone and TV directly.

Though newer Wi-Fi devices can become officially Wi-Fi Direct[nd]certified, the technology will be backward compatible with older Wi-Fi equipment. It will use the same frequency bands and radios. Some vendors may choose to release an upgrade of their software or firmware, but it won't be necessary for at least the basic functionality of Wi-Fi Direct.

2. Comparing Wi-Fi Direct Against Existing Wi-Fi and Bluetooth | Next Section