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Wi-Fi Direct

Wi-Fi Direct supports direct Wi-Fi connections between devices

Definition of Wi-Fi Direct: A specification that allows two devices to communicate with each other via Wi-Fi without needing an access point or computer in between. Introduced in 2009 by the Wi-Fi Alliance as a personal area network (PAN), Wi-Fi Direct competes with, but offers a huge speed advantage, over Bluetooth.

Consumers say they have an interest in Wi-Fi enabled music speakers and they want wireless for streaming video throughout the house. Some would settle for a Wi-Fi sync between their portable audio player and their music library, and of course, a quick connection between a device to a printer would be lauded.

Wi-Fi devices will 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. The Wi-Fi Alliance expects to begin certification for this new specification in mid-2010, and products which achieve the certification will be designated Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Wi-Fi Direct.

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.   

The Wi-Fi Alliance plans to publish its peer-to-peer specification upon completion, and will begin certifying devices for the Wi-Fi Direct designation in 2010.  Only Wi-Fi Alliance member companies will be able to certify devices to the new specification.

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Revised: 01/08/2010