New Wi-Fi tech allows devices to connect directly

The Wi-Fi industry has thrown down a challenge to Bluetooth, with plans to enable to all Wi-Fi devices to connect directly to each other without requiring a hub.

Products using the new standard, to be called Wi-Fi Direct, will use a form of peer-to-peer technology to connect to one or more devices, the Wi-Fi Alliance said.

The new standard will offer “typical Wi-Fi ranges and the same data rates” as through a hub or a hotspot base station, it said.

The alliance, whose members include Intel, Cisco, Microsoft and Nokia, said it is targeting both consumer electronics and enterprise applications. The new standard would come with WPA2 security. 

If successful, Wi-Fi Direct will make short-range wireless standard Bluetooth redundant in many devices. Currently, chips from both standards are placed in laptops and smartphones to provide internet access and connectivity between devices.

“Wi-Fi users worldwide will benefit from a single-technology solution to transfer content and share applications among devices, even when a Wi-Fi access point isn't available,” alliance executive director Edgar Figueroa said.

“The impact is that Wi-Fi will become even more pervasive and useful for consumers and across the enterprise.”

Only member companies of the Wi-Fi Alliance will be allowed to design devices using the new specification. Wi-Fi Direct certification will begin in 2010.