The Wi-Fi Alliance this morning announced that it is nearing completion of a new specification that will allow WiFi devices to connect to each other - devices such as mobile phones, cameras, printers, as well as devices such as keyboards and headphones - and that certification is expected to begin mid-next year.
I know. It sounds an awful lot like Bluetooth. But I suspect that this will be better.
The key here is that these devices will operate on a peer-to-peer basis, instead of linking to each other via the WiFi network. In a statement, WI-FI Alliance executive director Edgar Figueroa said:
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. The impact is that Wi-Fi will become even more pervasive and useful for consumers and across the enterprise.
The new technology will support typical WiFi ranges, which are much greater than Bluetooth, and will be able to tackle bandwidth-hungry tasks, as well. My experiences with Bluetooth have been hit-or-miss - mostly using a mobile phone earpiece, connecting a wireless mouse and transferring files between my Blackberry and laptop.
Funny story: at a tech event recently, I shot a picture on my phone and wanted to upload it to my laptop so I could put it in a blog post. But when I asked my phone (and laptop) to find the other Bluetooth device, I came up with a list of more than a dozen devices within range. Having no idea which of those were mine, I scrapped the file-transfer and just did the photo upload later.
Seeing how WiFi has a broader range and this new specification would allow multiple devices to connect directly with a single device (like an office printer), I imagine the airwaves will become a bit cluttered by devices trying to find each other.
I guess it's time to start thinking of some cool names for my devices so I can spot them when they're lined up next to hundreds of others in a crowded office or conference setting.