WiFi Direct, which is being developed by the WiFi Alliance, uses traditional WiFi technology to connect devices quickly, seamlessly and securely. WiFi Direct has been described as a Bluetooth killer but, while it certainly could replace the need for Bluetooth, it also has many more applications and capabilities than Bluetooth.
WiFi Direct uses standard WiFi technology but its application is very different. First, no existing WiFi network or router is needed; the technology uses peer-to-peer connections. Also, the process of connecting devices is much simpler than trying to use current tethering or ad hoc networking for laptops and smartphones. It is designed to be as simple to set up as a Bluetooth connection.
WiFi Direct also makes good use of existing WiFi devices. For example, any PC or laptop that already has standard WiFi 802.11x hardware can connect to a WiFi Direct-enabled device. That means that if you bought a WiFi Direct printer this holiday season, it could instantly connect to your PCs and other WiFi-enabled devices.
Also, since it is essentially a full WiFi connection, WiFi Direct devices can connect over a much greater range than Bluetooth and with greater data connection capacities. Also, it gets rid of the need for a device to have both Bluetooth and WiFi hardware, thus cutting down on hardware and power requirements.
I can definitely see a lot of potential uses for WiFi Direct-enabled devices. On the consumer side, it becomes much easier to synchronize content between digital cameras, entertainment devices and PCs within a household. On the business side, especially for road warriors, hooking up to devices at partner sites and hotels becomes a much simpler task.
Of course, there are potential issues. WiFi Direct uses WPA2 to secure the connection, which is fairly secure but not ironclad. Plus, how devices connect to each other and whether there are measures to prevent unwanted persons or devices from connecting to your WiFi Direct devices will be a big issue. After all, you probably don’t want just anyone in the airport to be able to download all the pictures from your vacation from your digital camera.
Still, I’m excited to see devices that use this standard, and, with certification starting, there’s a good chance we’ll see these devices by the holidays. It’s important for both people and devices to stay connected. And WiFi Direct should make these connections easier.