Wi-Fi Direct Coming, Could Wipe Out Bluetooth

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.

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • ubernoobie
    Cool... Pirating without torrenting ;D
  • burnley14
    This would be awesome. Bluetooth is really convenient and all, but Wi-Fi is that much more so.
  • Jazzmain
    mmmm, good point.
  • scook9
    this would be nice and sounds exactly like what intel is already planning with their upcoming wi-fi stuff for the calpella platform
  • mlopinto2k1
    Jesus, think POSITIVE people! Not DEMONIC! Wait, most of you are Atheist's, who am I kidding. That means be criminals! Right?
  • Kelavarus
    mlopinto2k1Jesus, think POSITIVE people! Not DEMONIC! Wait, most of you are Atheist's, who am I kidding. That means be criminals! Right?
    ... What the?

    Meh. I don't use Bluetooth anyway, haven't found a use for it yet.
  • sanchz
    It's good to see technologies unified, Wi-Fi Direct, Open Physics in new-gen graphics, Intel Light-Peak.
    Bluetooth is useful, but one technology for all purposes is good.
  • anonymousdude
    Only thing I'm worrying about is interference.
  • schmich
    Topic is >here< you --------------------> X
    If you are lost on the Internets please head to google.com to orientate yourself again. Have a nice day.
  • schmich
    Um that was for mlopinto2k1 by the way. I thought the comment would go below his.