The Wi-Fi Alliance has announced a new Wi-Fi specification called Wi-Fi Direct. Previously cod named Wi-Fi peer to peer, Wi-Fi Direct will enable devices to connect in a new way, communicating directly with other Wi-Fi Direct enabled devices, eliminating the need for a hotspot or wireless router. The Alliance expects to publish the new spec when it is complete, and to begin certifying devices for the Wi-Fi Direct designation in 2010.
If this sounds a lot like Bluetooth, it is. In fact, Wi-Fi-Direct will have several advantages over Bluetooth, including faster data transfer rates, a longer range of up to 100 meters, and WPA2 level security for security sensitive enterprise application. Of course, that comparison is based on current generation Bluetooth. Bluetooth 3.0 is in the works and could potentially match the new Wi-FI peer to peer features. Wi-Fi Direct targets all types of Wi-Fi device, including printers, mobile phones, headphones, cameras, notebook computers and keyboards. These devices will the capability to make one-to-one connections, but several devices will also be able to connect to each other at the same.
The Alliance made the correct decision and made sure that Wi-Fi Direct certified devices will also be able to connect to Wi-Fi legacy devices already in use. This alone could be the death knell for Bluetooth 3.0.
“Wi-Fi Direct represents a leap forward for our industry”, says Edgar Figueroa, director of Wi-Fi Alliance “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.”
Some have downplayed the importance of the announcement, pointing out that ad hoc wireless connections are already supported in the current Wi-Fi standard. Wi-Fi Direct claims to make it easier, however, for devices to find each other and create connections.