New 'WiFi Direct' Makes Wireless Networking Simple

Dennis Faas's picture

Five portable devices have become the first certified as 'WiFi Direct,' a new system designed to rival Bluetooth in making it easy to connect devices without wires.

At the moment, most WiFi-enabled devices can only connect through a router. The alternative is to use a tool in Windows known as an ad-hoc network connection, but this is difficult to establish and often unstable. While that's fine for home and office environments, it's of little use to business users on the road. It's also tricky to use with devices such as phones and digital cameras.

The main solution to that problem has been Bluetooth, a wireless technology built into many mobile devices. However, it has a limited range and often a relatively low-quality or patchy connections compared to WiFi.

'WiFi Direct' Devices Have Router Built In

The new product aims to solve that by effectively turning electronic devices themselves into mini WiFi routers. That means any other device can connect directly through a WiFi connection. For example, a user could send pictures straight from a camera to a printer, a computer or a digital photo frame without having to hook up cables or take out memory cards.

The way the system works means that only one device in each pair needs the WiFi Direct feature. Any other device that has standard WiFi can then communicate back and forth with it. The system has the capacity to transmit data up to 200 meters at speeds of up to 250 Mbps, which is faster than most wired networks. (Source:

Encryption On Board

Another benefit of the system is that it has WPA2 encryption built-in, which is the most secure encryption currently in widespread use. As opposed to routers, the encryption is "hard-wired", meaning it cannot be switched off by either the user or a hacker.

The idea is to reduce or even remove the need for Bluetooth. That could mean future devices wouldn't need to have both Bluetooth and WiFi connections, which would save on physical space and power demands, both of which are in short supply in many portable devices. (Source:

It remains to be seen exactly how the system will take care of the important issue of how devices are authorized to connect to one another -- and just as importantly, how unauthorized devices are blocked.

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