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Summary:

Directly connecting Wi-Fi devices to each other is now simple and configuration-free thanks to Wi-Fi Direct. Here at CES, I got a look at demo apps using this peer-to-peer technology, which I expect to see in many phones and consumer electronics devices in 2011.

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Getting devices connected to share files or engage in multi-person apps looks like it’s going to get much easier based on Wi-Fi Direct, a new initiative from the Wi-Fi Alliance. The technology uses existing Wi-Fi radios for a direct, peer-to-peer connection between two or more Wi-Fi devices. No external router or access point is needed to get connected, and even older Wi-Fi devices can connect to Wi-Fi Direct certified gadgets. There are no messy configuration steps involved either; certified Wi-Fi direct devices can securely and seamlessly connect to each other whenever in range of each other.

Essentially, Wi-Fi Direct sounds like a simplified version of Bluetooth, but based on what I’ve seen, it’s even easier to use. It leverages the speeds and ranges of traditional Wi-Fi solutions; a laptop could shoot photos to a large screen television from hundreds of feet away, for example. Or, a Wi-Fi Blu-ray player in one room could pipe content to another room. That flexibility, combined with the simplicity and growth in devices shipping with Wi-Fi radios, makes this a technology worth watching. The number of consumer electronics and handsets with Wi-Fi radios is expected to grow by 26 percent a year through 2015, according to ABI Research.

Here at the Consumer Electronics Show, I got to see Wi-Fi Direct in action and snapped a short video of some demonstration applications. Using a platform called Qwarq, I saw Wi-Fi Direct apps such as chat and gaming between two devices to show off the peer-to-peer connectivity. The gaming app in particular demonstrated practically no latency and neither application required any configuration steps to connect the devices.

Bear in mind that these are just sample implementations; direct connection of two Wi-Fi Direct gadgets opens up a world of potential as a growing number of consumers want to move data and media to televisions, printers and laptops as easily as possible. In fact, with all the dual-core smartphones popping up with support for 1080p content playback, HDMI cables could be replaced through Wi-Fi Direct to get content on larger screens. The LG Optimus Black, for example, already has Wi-Fi Direct certification and support, so it could be a portable set-top box that doesn’t need a physical cable for television connections.

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  1. I don’t know if wifi direct would have the bandwidth to do wireless 1080p and if it was that easy why would there be a UWB standards to handle that. Anyhow, the possibilities are endless and I’m hoping for things like Nokia Instant Community and new social networking to take advantage of that also.

  2. See WiFi Direct In Action – ThinkMobile Friday, January 7, 2011

    [...] that WiFi Direct will require less configuration and will be faster. Kevin Tofel has recorded a video of a demonstration of WiFi Direct at the Consumer Electronics show, which you can watch to see how the capability [...]

  3. Video: Wi-Fi Direct, an Easier Way to Connect Wireless Devices … | Wireless Fans Friday, January 7, 2011

    [...] Directly connecting Wi-Fi devices to each other is now simple and configuration-free thanks to Wi-Fi Direct. Here at CES, I got a look at demo apps using this peer-to-peer technology, which I expect to see in many phones and consumer … Read the original: Video: Wi-Fi Direct, an Easier Way to Connect Wireless Devices … [...]

  4. Are Home Networks Destined for Cloud-Based Networking? : Tech News and Analysis « Thursday, March 24, 2011

    [...] we just got are configured to tap into the network. The emergence of newer Wi-Fi based technologies, such as the Wi-Fi Direct (for providing direct, peer-to-peer connection between two or more Wi-Fi devices) and Airplay, are [...]

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