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Wireless Networking Technology

Wi-Fi Direct Gets Real With Product Certification 78

Posted by Soulskill
from the unleash-the-marketing-hounds dept.
CWmike writes "Wi-Fi Direct officially became a concrete technology today, with several new laptop components certified by the Wi-Fi Alliance. That threshold was reached before most people even understand what Wi-Fi Direct is, reports Matt Hamblen. Wi-Fi Direct is a new technology designed to allow peer-to-peer Wi-Fi connections between devices like smartphones and cameras without a traditional Wi-Fi network or the need for Wi-Fi access points. This means that a camera with Wi-Fi Direct installed could communicate via Wi-Fi to a digital picture frame or printer, uploading picture data over the same range of existing Wi-Fi, about 200 yards at speeds of up to 250Mbit/sec, said Wi-Fi Alliance CEO Edgar Figueroa. 'Imagine if two people were on a train and wanted to play a game in real time on their separate handhelds but had no cellular or Wi-Fi hot spot. They still could play with Wi-Fi Direct,' he said."
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Wi-Fi Direct Gets Real With Product Certification

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  • I wonder how long it will actually take to phase out bluetooth. I mean, that tech has been around forever and never really caught on outside of phones.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Have you not seen all the bluetooth mice and headsets for computers that are available now..?

      bluetooth still has it's applications... low power usage mainly.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Cley Faye (1123605)
        This is very true. I have a bluetooth mouse with the original battery that came with it inside, and it's still working after 2 years of use. Device with low bandwidth and little mobility requirements are very good with bluetooth right now.
      • by GooberToo (74388)

        Exactly.

        I've read several articles on WiFi Direct but have yet to see a single one address power requirements, let alone power requirements compared to Bluetooth. Yet everyone seems to angle the two technologies as competitors.

        Almost all of the areas where Bluetooth has wide penetration is exactly because of its power advantages and because its performance is fast enough. If battery like is reduced 50% but you can transfer 1000% faster, does anyone really care? I know I don't. After all, when I need faster

        • by Coren22 (1625475)

          They both run at 2.4 Ghz if I am reading the summary correctly. This would mean to get the 200 yd range, more power is being used in the transmitter, which means less battery life. This to me is a no starter, just use bluetooth, it is what it is meant to be used for.

          • by GooberToo (74388)

            This would mean to get the 200 yd range

            Bluetooth can't even work at those ranges. Just the same, there isn't a reason you can't do adaptive amplification based on signal strength and/or error rate. Which means, technically, they could ran at much lower power levels for much closer ranges. As such, it would be nice to see a graph comparing power, distance, and throughput for the two technologies.

            Regardless, I suspect you're right - Bluetooth is likely still king.

    • by ceeam (39911) on Monday October 25, 2010 @05:24PM (#34017918)

      Bluetooth 3.0 uses WiFi as the underlying carrier technology.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by nizo (81281) *

        Sniffing of wireless keyboards using WiFi is gonna be even easier than before.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by hitmark (640295)

        Only when high speed data is needed, like for file transfers, and only for the radio layer. The protocol is still very much bluetooth.

        And bluetooth 4.0 introduced a low power spec, that should allow a compatible device to function for quite some time from a coin style battery (or perhaps even smaller).

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by DesertNomad (885798)

        Actually, Bluetooth 3.0 uses IEEE802.11, not Wi-Fi, as the underlying carrier technology. Wi-Fi is a superset of 802.11 features. Wi-Fi brings broad interoperability, higher level functionality and mandated conformance to established standards. BT 3.0 uses 802.11 as an Alternate MAC/PHY (AMP) layer, has a fixed signaling rate of 24Mbps, and does the "networking" using the BT radio and BT protocols, not Wi-Fi. It is not necessary for a 802.11 radio that is set up to run in BT3.0 mode to be compatible with a

      • by pablo_max (626328)

        Well, no. It uses 3GPP 802.11, not Wi-Fi. And, it only uses that for the physical layers.
        Bluetooth wants to be come only the overlaying protocol without caring about the RF layers.

        Additionally, Bluetooth tends to have much better power management than Wi-Fi does. Especially when you are talking about BT low energy and advanced power control features.

        I don't see Wi-Fi kicking out BT.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      bluetooth is GREAT for remote controls... first of all you don't need line of sight to the receiver, and the latency and responsiveness are at least 5 times as good as IR... i recently got the bluetooth slide remote for tivo and didn't even realize how slow my IR remote was to respond until things started working like they should with bluetooth.
    • I wonder how long it will actually take to phase out bluetooth. I mean, that tech has been around forever and never really caught on outside of phones.

      Bluetooth passes the 8KHz network timing natively, by timing its frame rate to the network clock and having built-in provisions for picking a good clocking master. This is very handy for cellphone peripherals because it makes them cheap: The phone provides an accurate and (if appropriate) network-synchronized clock to the the A/D converters in microphones,

    • . . . never really caught on outside of phones.

      Small example, but how about Wii controllers?

      • by hufman (1670590)
        Also PS3 controllers, which communicate over the USB charging cable to establish the pairing and then magically work forever.
  • by EmagGeek (574360) <gterich @ a o l.com> on Monday October 25, 2010 @05:08PM (#34017706) Journal

    I've been able to have two Wifi laptops communicate in an ad-hoc network forever, so how is this really different?

    • by Jorl17 (1716772)
      It's cool man. It's cool.

      No, really, it may have technical differences, but it all boils down to fucktards colonizing the industry that should be for smart people.
    • I second that motion. How is this new and different.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Because you didn't have to pay for the privilege of using ad-hoc

    • by Wyatt Earp (1029)

      You didn't even read the summary did you?

      Peer-to-peer for "dumb" devices, like of a high power, long range Bluetooth.

    • by tepples (727027)

      I've been able to have two Wifi laptops communicate in an ad-hoc network forever, so how is this really different?

      Exactly. When I saw "Imagine if two people were on a train and wanted to play a game in real time on their separate handhelds" I thought of Wi-Fi on the Nintendo DS, which in effect turns player 1's machine into an access point.

    • by timeOday (582209)
      Here's a zdnet [zdnet.com] article that addresses what problems this is supposed to solve over and above ad-hoc WiFi, namely speed, security,and ease of configuration.

      Over the weekend I was configuring my thermostat and sprinkler system for Fall, and wishing I could cheaply and easily use a web browser interface instead of the tiny, arcane LCD screens currently used to do this. These interfaces only have a few buttons and it's pretty hard for me to imagine configuring ad-hoc wifi on them. I think the problems solve

    • by lordcorusa (591938) on Monday October 25, 2010 @05:47PM (#34018222)

      According to Wikipedia, Wi-Fi Direct is ad-hoc mode Wi-Fi device with a built-in Wi-Fi Protected Access setup daemon, optional access point software (e.g., routing to other networks) and an as-yet undefined service discovery mechanism (e.g., UPnP, Bonjour). Basically, they are writing a standard which ties together several existing standards and best practices. This sort of meta-standard is quite common.

      One example they give is a picture frame, which offers only the required ad-hoc mode Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi Protected Access daemon, and a simple service for file upload. The user would connect to it, upload pictures, and then disconnect. Nothing else would be offered by the frame, but the user would not need to do any manual setup or buy any additional devices.

      A more complicated example is a cell phone which offers tethering. In addition to the required ad-hoc mode Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi Protected Access daemon, has full blown bridging/routing and service discovery daemons built-in. The user would expect to treat this device more like an infrastructure mode network in a single package; perhaps some setup would be required on the Wi-Fi Direct device, but virtually no additional setup would be required on each connected device.

      So basically they are just making a standard, the implementation of which requires doing all of the things we have done manually for our own networks. This is just one step further in simplifying network setup, but not any kind of new revolution.

      • I hate to reply to my own posts, but I just thought of an additional comment to add.

        In the example of the picture frame, likely all of the extra Wi-Fi Direct magic will be baked into the firmware.

        On the other hand, for devices like laptops, I doubt that they would put this amount of software into firmware. It is likely that the extra components that turn plain Wi-Fi into Wi-Fi Direct will be entirely software that is delivered by a package of drivers and helper programs that are all provided by the OS or v

        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          On the other hand, for devices like laptops, I doubt that they would put this amount of software into firmware. It is likely that the extra components that turn plain Wi-Fi into Wi-Fi Direct will be entirely software that is delivered by a package of drivers and helper programs that are all provided by the OS or via a setup disc. This sort of of all-in-one setup will likely be offered to Windows and Mac users. However, users of independent operating systems, like Linux, will likely not see this, and will li

      • by jrumney (197329)
        An interesting extension would be to add service discovery at the WiFi beacon level, so you could see what services were on offer from surrounding devices without connecting to each ad-hoc network. That would be something new, rather than just a standardization of a combination of existing technologies.
      • by cthulhu11 (842924)
        Basically, they're doing BonJour?
      • by Rysc (136391) *

        I can see it now: wardriving for picture frames and uploading goatse to each one.

        I, for one, welcome our new WiFi Direct overlords.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Ad-hoc/IBSS was never widely adopted by consumers, and is a very connection-centric technology. You create ad-hoc profiles on each participating machine, activate the network, and that's it. Security and services are up to the user- and generally the ability to create ad-hoc networks is relegated to the "advanced" section of most WiFi UIs. WiFi Direct uses WPS so average-Joe users can create and join secure "ad-hoc" networks without really knowing anything about the underlying technologies. It also provides

    • by mldi (1598123)
      Don't you just love buzz words that just relabel an existing tech or methodology? Kinda like how everything is about "the cloud" now. Ugh.
  • Rob Enderle (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    The article quotes Enderle. It's validity as journalism just got -3 mod points. As Enderle only makes stupid and pointless commentary about wi-fi tethering, it avoids the full -5 mod pomt deduction it could have suffered if the main point of the article was based on something he said.

    • Thanks for the extra warning! I always avoid the *world.com sites like the plague, but Rob is above and beyond a complete numskull in all things tech and probably beyond. Still, good going for him to get such a flashy, almost tech job without any knowledge of the subject matter whatsoever. Cheers!

  • So.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rainmayun (842754) on Monday October 25, 2010 @05:10PM (#34017738)

    All of the same benefits of Bluetooth, plus the WiFi congestion and interference headaches we already enjoy just to get Internet access???

    Where do I sign up???

    *rant off*

    • Exactly.

    • by svirre (39068)

      Considering that wifi can use both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz ISM bands, how do you figure there will be more interference issues with wifi than BT (That only use 2.4GHz as of right now)

  • this is so amazing. now i can not communicate with anybody else on a train because they would have to pay for the same game & it cant be copied from phone phone to the next, and their operating system is different, and i cant show them how to get the game because their phones GUI is different.. its like.. bluetooth!
  • 'Imagine if two people were on a train and wanted to play a game in real time on their separate handhelds but had no cellular or Wi-Fi hot spot. They still could play with Wi-Fi Direct,' he said."

    Pfft, old news.
    http://guidesarchive.ign.com/guides/12865/images/linkcable_top.jpg

  • So? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rix (54095) on Monday October 25, 2010 @05:14PM (#34017808)

    This is just a brand name for ad-hoc networking, then?

    • by Tetsujin (103070)

      This is just a brand name for ad-hoc networking, then?

      Yeah, seriously. I mean, look at this quote:
      "Imagine if two people were on a train and wanted to play a game in real time on their separate handhelds but had no cellular or Wi-Fi hot spot. They still could play with Wi-Fi Direct"

      Nintendo DS and Sony PSP have had this exact capability for several years now. Maybe there's more to Wi-Fi Direct than what Ad Hoc networking offers - I really don't know... But this example use case isn't exactly mind-blowing.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        it's like ad-hoc, but wifi direct goes to 11

      • by blair1q (305137)

        Are the DS and PSP open standards for generalized communication?

        Maybe they screwed up by not becoming open standards for generalized communication.

      • Re:So? (Score:4, Informative)

        by babyrat (314371) on Monday October 25, 2010 @05:31PM (#34018022)

        Maybe there's more to Wi-Fi Direct than what Ad Hoc networking offers - I really don't know..

        So you could take a minute to post the fact you are uninformed to slashdot, or you could have spent that same minute informing yourself...

        From the FAQ linked in the article...

        Is this the same as Ad Hoc mode?

        No. Ad Hoc, or IBSS, mode is a legacy protocol for Wi-Fi devices, and Wi-Fi Direct is a new innovation. Wi-Fi Direct brings important security features, ease of setup, and higher performance that is not currently available in Ad Hoc mode. With Wi-Fi Direct, a device can maintain a simultaneous connection to an infrastructure network – this isn’t possible with Ad Hoc.

        • Maybe there's more to Wi-Fi Direct than what Ad Hoc networking offers - I really don't know..

          So you could take a minute to post the fact you are uninformed to slashdot, or you could have spent that same minute informing yourself...

          Well, yes, but my point still stands: that "gaming on a train" thing is a terrible example of what Wi-Fi Direct has to offer. Playing a game wirelessly between two or more devices? We've got that already. That feature has been available at retail in mainstream gaming devices for at least six years. And that's what they chose as an example of why Wi-Fi Direct is a new and exciting feature? Pathetic.

        • by MSRedfox (1043112)
          "Simultaneous connection to a Wi-Fi Direct-certified group and an infrastructure network is an optional feature." From what I can tell, it more or less is a 1-on-1 (or 1-on-many depending on device's settings) automated AD Hoc (with pre-defined settings). Since connecting to both a Direct Connection and infrastructure network at the same time is optional, I assume it would have 2 WiFi devices installed to do this (if it only uses 1 device to do both I'd be surprised). As such, it's very similar to a lapt
          • by Tacvek (948259)

            It is easy enough for one card to be connected to both an infrastructure and ad-hoc network. There are however a few minor limitations (such as using the same channel for both). However, many OS's don't have a sufficent API for drivers to allow this, and even when the API is there, not all drivers implement enough to permit this. Indeed sometimes the drivers could not offer such features, because the defined driverchip path is lacking.

            Just like pretty much all wifi chips have the hardware to support running

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by ledow (319597)

          Is this the same as Ad Hoc mode?

          "No." (actually, it's damn close, so close that anyone who knows both will assume they are the same.

          "Ad Hoc, or IBSS, mode is a legacy protocol for Wi-Fi devices, and Wi-Fi Direct is a new innovation." (Adhoc is old, this is new! That's the difference! Imbecile!)

          "Wi-Fi Direct brings important security features, ease of setup, and higher performance that is not currently available in Ad Hoc mode." (we took adhoc mode, formalised the out-of-spec "adhoc can use more than 11MBp

      • by jonbryce (703250)

        Does it work if one person has a Nintendo DS and the other has a Sony PSP? Will the new standard work between different types of gaming device? Obviously you both need to be playing the same game.

    • by gringer (252588)

      Doesn't OLPC XO-1 use 802.11s for ad-hoc/mesh networking [wikipedia.org]?

    • Maybe the Zune mob can stop referring to it as "squirting" now...
  • Ok, so I'm well aware that unless done correctly this would have security concerns, but... Could this type of technology be used to build a wireless mesh network, allowing people to access the Internet via wi-fi where ever they were so long as there were multiple Wi-Fi Direct appliances that could be chained together to connect to the data?
  • Can existing Wi-Fi devices, like notebook PCs, just upgrade software (downloaded from the Internet) to get the Wi-Fi Direct function? Or does it require new hardware?

  • Could this be the tech for sending messages to nearby phones without knowing in advance their specific network address (eg. phone# or IP#)? Phones could accept connections over Wi-Fi Direct from other nearby phones, locate them physically and show the message recipient just where the message is coming from. It would let us use our phones to say "hey, you!" or "psst" to people without everyone around knowing we did. People could shut off the messaging or screen it, or just see every message cast at them. But

    • But how do you know which phone belongs to that tall muscular stud two rows in front of you, rather than to the smelly fatty behind you?
      • by Doc Ruby (173196)

        Zigbee lets devices locate themselves by radio triangulation. Can't Wi-Fi do the same for other devices in the network?

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