Wi-Fi has been around for a while now, but has remained relatively un-changed since its inception. The Wi-Fi alliance is about to contradict that fact when it takes the wraps off a new technology designed to allow gadgets embedded with Wi-Fi to talk directly with one another without the need to connect to a wireless network first.
More specifically, the alliance is nearly finished putting together a Wi-Fi Direct specification, or a set of technical “rules” that guide consumer electronics companies that plan to add the new capability. For example, only one of the gadgets need have the new Wi-Fi Direct technology to make a two-way connection work. In one scenario, you could connect a smart phone with Wi-Fi Direct to a laptop and piggyback on its wired Internet connection for a quick e-mail check without tapping your phone’s data plan.
Another example would be to “liberate the mounting gigabytes of digital family photos that are trapped in cameras, smart phones or PCs- now those gadgets will be able to connect directly to digital photo frames, TVs or printers,” said Kelly Davis-Felner, the Wi-Fi Alliance’s marketing director.
Details are still some what limited as to how the technology will facilitate the direct connections, but the alliance has already stated that the technology will be making its way into gadgets by mid-2010. What’s interesting is the fact that direct Wi-Fi connections, as I understand it, is very similar to what Bluetooth can do already. The only difference being that Bluetooth has a very limited range.
Bluetooth is already fighting its limited range capabilities by announcing last year that it would co-opt Wi-Fi technology to make it possible to send videos and other bandwidth-hogging files around the house, much as Wi-Fi Direct promises to do.
With Wi-Fi stepping into the realm of Bluetooth, I have to wonder if the same marketing techniques will be used- such as proximity-based “push messages,” and other LBS solutions made popular with Bluetooth technology. It will be interesting to see what marketers come up with that’s for sure.