updated 08:10 am EDT, Wed October 14, 2009
Wi-Fi Direct standard due in mid-2010
The Wi-Fi Alliance today unveiled a new standard it hopes will make Wi-Fi the de facto standard for peer-to-peer wireless. Known as Wi-Fi Direct, it will turn any supporting device into an access point and let it auto-discover other compatible hardware nearby. The technique will not only simplify ad hoc networks, reducing the need for a dedicated router, but will let peripherals use Wi-Fi where they couldn't have before: cameras, mice and other devices could work without needing any special setup.
The implementation potentially threatens Bluetooth as it fulfills largely the same role but transfers at Wi-Fi speeds, which in the case of 802.11n can be 30 times faster than 3Mbps Bluetooth in real-world conditions. However, Bluetooth typically uses much less power and is more likely to be used for input and other devices that aren't dependent on speed.
The Alliance expects a quick turnaround for Wi-Fi Direct and should see it built into shipping products by mid-2010. However, many Wi-Fi devices will be firmware upgradable. Intel plans to promote the standard when it introduces an updated Wi-Fi chipset early next year, alongside the launch of its Arrandale notebook processors.