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Wi-Fi devices will soon be able to connect in a new way that makes it more simple and convenient than ever to do things like print, share and display. 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.

"Wi-Fi Direct represents a leap forward for our industry.  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," said Wi-Fi Alliance executive director Edgar Figueroa.

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. 

Wi-Fi Direct will naturally compete against technologies like Bluetooth as well as other close-proximity wireless interconnects. Wi-Fi Direct is likely to be considerably faster compared to Bluetooth, however, the latter is probably more power efficient and will continue to be compatible with things like headsets, therefore, Wi-Fi Direct will hardly replace Bluetooth in the foreseeable future.

Tags: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth

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