New Wi-Fi Direct Gets peer-to-peer connections

Spec supports device-to-device connections over same range and as same speed as Wi-Fi, but without a hotspot or access point

A new specification, called Wi-Fi Direct, provides peer-to-peer connections between Wi-Fi devices, no hotspot required. That could be bad news for Bluetooth, but good news for customers.

Developed by the Wi-Fi Alliance, the new specification is expected to begin appearing in products as soon as next year. It will allow device-to-device connections over the same range and as the same speed as Wi-Fi, but without the need for a hotspot or access point, the alliance said.

This would allow Wi-Fi to be used for applications that previously have been best served by a Bluetooth connection. Indeed, the days of Bluetooth being considered a wireless replacement for a USB cable may be numbered.

By the end of next year, we may be using Wi-Fi Direct for the same purpose.

The Bluetooth Special Interest Group has not been sitting still, however, announcing a 3.0 specification back in April.

Wi-Fi Direct will also connect to traditional Wi-Fi networks as well as to groups of Wi-Fi Direct devices, the Wi-Fi Alliance said.

Security features have been built into the Wi-Fi Direct specification to prevent peer-to-peer devices from compromising corporate networks.

My take: This is great news. Wi-Fi has been hugely successful in helping build home and business networks, but peer-to-peer connectivity has been lacking. Either Bluetooth 3.0 or Wi-Fi Direct should be able to help. It will be interesting to see how the market shakes out. I am betting on Wi-Fi Direct.

David Coursey tweets as @techinciter and can be contacted via his Web site.

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David Coursey

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