What WiFi Direct is and is not

What WiFi Direct is and is not

Summary: WiFi Direct is no big deal today but let's see what innovators do with it.

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WiFi Direct starts being certified today, and the media is all over it.

It's a good replacement for Bluetooth, in that manufacturers can now support one standard for short distance peer-to-peer communications.

Never mind that Bluetooth (or even Zigbee) might have technical advantages or a big installed base. Their use in the field just hasn't taken off.

Even when people have Bluetooth they often don't use it except to play Borg Ears with their mobile phones. (I find the Bluetooth in the ear look to be almost as dorky as a shaved head.) Call it WiFi and people might use it, in their printers, or TVs, and reduce that nest of wires around their desks to something manageable.

As Larry Magid notes in his podcast, WiFi Direct could also have impact in the mobile world. Since its range is a little longer than Bluetooth, people could use it to sync mobile files, or connect with kiosks. I'm not terribly worried about security since most hotspots now are secured.

Which brings me to what WiFi Direct doesn't do.

What it doesn't do is change the communication landscape appreciably. You still need backhaul to get a WiFi signal to the Internet. Building an adhoc network inside the coffee shop doesn't let you reach the wider world.

Although, with a little imagination, this could change. Consider a small shopping district. WiFi Direct could create a mesh of signals within that district that a single router might then represent for backhaul purposes. Aggregate backhaul needs and you are a worthwhile client for fiber connections.

Or consider what happens once Super WiFi gear comes on stream. These backhaul signals could be aggregated into a single Super WiFi router, whose directional antenna might reach a fiber presence directly. even if it is many miles away. When WiFi was new, 10 years ago, this was the dream of the Pringle Cans. With Super WiFi that dream becomes possible.

All that is for later, of course. For now you've got a Bluetooth replacement, another way of connecting your printer to the kids' room. No big deal.

But let's see what innovators do with it. This is the beauty of communication defined by hardware standards rather than ownership of spectrum. How much bigger might the Internet be if all wireless were run like WiFi?

Topics: Mobility, Networking, Wi-Fi

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9 comments
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  • Bald Head!

    Dana,
    I (not seriously) object to your suggestion that shaved heads make us look dorky. For those of us who don't like the mammoth beard look you are able to pull off so well, we have little choice when we go bald but to shave our heads. Its the only style that seems to fit. :)
    davemackey.net
    • RE: What WiFi Direct is and is not

      @davemackey.net Actually the point was my wife's. She is the one who doesn't like the shaved head deal. She laughs about it.

      I prefer to call mine the Brother Cadfael look.
      DanaBlankenhorn
    • Bald is Bold!

      @davemackey.net - agreed! Besides, there's no hair style worse than a comb-over.
      DotWhat
  • Help me out here, please

    I need some help understanding this, please. What I understand is that devices currently supporting WiFi will, essentially, be able to communicate (with software upgrades). That means, I think, that one laptop should be able to connect wirelessly to another laptop (somehow) and use that other laptop's resources - is that correct?

    The puzzle though, is tethering. Will I (theoretically) be able to tether my WiFi-only iPad to my 3G iPhone and browse the Internet on my iPad, using my Data plan on the iPhone?

    TIA for your help.
    no_axe_to__grind
    • I guess nobody knows

      @no_axe_to__grind Too bad
      no_axe_to__grind
  • WiFI Direct will be doomed the same way that Bluetooth has been!

    I hate to be to one to tell you to wake up and smell the coffee or maybe it is the other brown smelly stuff. Bluetooth failed because supervendors like Sony Erricson coded their version of Android to only use their bluetooth headphones for any music player on their smartphone. So who is going to pay for an ear bud bluetooth that only works on telephone calls then switch over to Sony headphone to listen to music? Not ME!!

    Dana what you think that WiFi Direct vendors are going to play nice with each other? The scenario that you played out is a great one for a single vendor to sell as a package deal and lock everyone else out.
    ronald.warden@...
  • RE: What WiFi Direct is and is not

    Well, if it works, then more money for the Australian Government - They (CSRIO = Australian Government Science Department), invented it, after all!
    ozchorlton
  • Opensource

    Is this Opensource Ultra-Wideband (UWB)?
    The Management consultant
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