Called a "game-changing advance for WiFi technology" by ABI Research analyst Victoria Fodale, WiFi Direct enables two or several devices-such as mobile phones, keyboards, printers, cameras, gaming devices and headphones-to connect, with or without the availability of a WiFi hotspot. The devices can then sync for gaming, or to pass content such as photos, music and applications.
"We designed WiFi Direct to unleash a wide variety of applications which require device connections, but do not need the Internet or even a traditional network," said Edgar Figueroa, CEO of the WiFi Alliance, in a statement. "WiFi Direct empowers users to connect devices - when, where and how they want to, and our certification program delivers products that work well together, regardless of the brand."
The five WiFi Certified WiFi Direct products, the Alliance announced, are:
- Atheros XSPAN Dual-band 802.11n PCIe mini card;
- Broadcom Dual-Band 802.11n 2x2 MiMO PCIe half mini card;
- Intel Centrino Advanced-N 6200 WiFi card;
- Ralink MIMObility 802.11 2x2 PCIe half mini card; and
- Realtek HM92C00 PCIe mini card.
WiFi Direct technology is intended for both consumer and enterprise devices, as it offers the latest WPA2 security protections. It also works with older WiFi Certified devices, offers a "push-button" setup and-unlike the limited distances of Bluetooth technology-works at a typical WiFi range.
Also unlike Bluetooth, which is a point-to-point technology, explains EndPoint Technology analyst Roger Kay, WiFi Direct "is simply removing the hub from the middle of the WiFi network, allowing devices to connect directly to each other, if they are WiFi enabled and have the right software."
In terms of the expected impact of the technology, which is not a Bluetooth replacement, Kay adds, "It's not earth shattering, but rather a nice extension to WiFi usability."
Two additional devices, the Cisco 2106 Wireless LAN Controller and Cisco Aironet 1240 Series Access Points, were also used in the Alliance's certification test suite.