Wi-Fi Direct Aims to Eliminate the Middleman

Carl Weinschenk

Carl Weinschenk spoke with Brian O'Rourke, principal analyst, In-Stat. On June 2, the company released a report entitled, "Wi-Fi Direct: It's All About the Software."

Wi-Fi is a ubiquitous networking protocol. One stumbling block to usage, however, is that signals have to be trafficked through a gateway, hotspot or similar device before reaching the desired end point. Wi-Fi Direct is an attempt to streamline the process. In-Stat Principal Analyst Brian O'Rourke told IT Business Edge blogger Carl Weinschenk that Wi-Fi Direct is vital, but only part of the simplification battle.

"Wi-Fi Direct is going to be in essentially every Wi-Fi chip that ships by 2014. It will be baked into the cake. Every Wi-FI chip maker has plans to enable Wi-Fi chips to have Wi-Fi Direct."

Brian O'Rourke
Principal Analyst

Weinschenk: What is Wi-Fi Direct?

O'Rourke: Wi-Fi Direct is a software superset or layer that sits on top of IEEE 802.11x silicon. It is not governed by the IEEE. It is a software layer and doesn't require any hardware changes in the underlying IEEE specification.

It's governed by the Wi-Fi Alliance. The idea is that it allows peer-to-peer connectivity between Wi-Fi-enabled devices. 802.11 is a networking technology. It therefore requires that all signals go through an access point, a hotspot or a home gateway and then be distributed. Wi-Fi Direct allows one Wi-Fi-connected device to connect directly to another one. It was driven by the Wi-Fi Alliance, the trade group representing Wi-Fi chip vendors and phone vendors and consumer electronic companies, all of whom use IEEE 802.11 or Wi-Fi.

Weinschenk: Why is it a good thing?

O'Rourke: Since it allows Wi-Fi devices to connect directly, it's more efficient and provides for greater functionality. If I have, for example, a Wi-Fi-enabled mobile phone with pictures or video on it and want to display them on a W-Fi-enabled television, it allows me to hit a button on the phone and a button on the TV and view the photos or video on the TV.

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