Why didn't they firm this up sooner?
Our mobile devices, from larger ones like laptops to smaller ones like cell phones, have a good number of wireless radios inside of them.
Having a Wi-Fi radio is essential to connect to access points for internet connectivity, which is how most people use their Wi-Fi hardware. Of course, Wi-Fi radios can also connect laptops together for ad-hoc networks.
So why, then, do we not use our Wi-Fi radios for connecting more devices together, such as cell phones to laptops, or even cameras, printers--some of which already have Wi-Fi hardware? The Wi-Fi Alliance has pondered the same thing and today announced that it is nearing completion of a new specification enabling Wi-Fi devices to connect to one another without joining a traditional home, office, or hotspot network.
The Wi-Fi Alliance said that it expects to begin certification for this new specification in mid-2010, and products which achieve the certification will be designated Wi-Fi Direct (formerly code-named "Wi-Fi peer-to-peer").
The upcoming spec would allow all sorts of devices to interface with each other, including keyboards and headphones. This, of course, would threaten Bluetooth as the close-range wireless standard for small devices.
Perhaps most excitingly is that devices certified to the upcoming new specification will also be able to create connections with hundreds of millions of Wi-Fi legacy devices already in use. It's unclear if legacy hardware will require software updates to support the Wi-Fi Direct standard, but we'd imagine so.
"Wi-Fi Direct represents a leap forward for our industry. Wi-Fi users worldwide will benefit from a single-technology solution to transfer content and share applications quickly and easily among devices, even when a Wi-Fi access point isn't available," said Wi-Fi Alliance executive director Edgar Figueroa. "The impact is that Wi-Fi will become even more pervasive and useful for consumers and across the enterprise."
Wi-Fi Direct will feature many of the same features and characteristics of existing Wi-Fi, such as WPA2 security, ranges and data rates.