Wi-Fi Direct certification begins today, device-to-device transmission starting soon

So, Bluetooth -- last fall didn't end up being as frightful as you had probably imagined, but this fall is bound to be different. Or so the Wi-Fi Alliance says. If you'll recall, Wi-Fi Direct promised to do what Bluetooth had been doing for years, but with far less fuss and on a protocol that's much more widespread. A solid year has come and gone, and we've heard nary a word from any company who plans on implementing it. Thankfully for us all, that changes today. Starting in mere moments, Wi-Fi Direct devices will begin the certification process, and while we couldn't extract exact product details or a release time frame for future wares on a media call regarding the announcement, we did get the impression that at least a few partners were trying to get Wi-Fi Direct wares onto shelves before Christmas.

As for functionality, the claims are fairly impressive. In order to make a direct device-to-device connection over WiFi, just one of the two need to be Wi-Fi Direct certified. In other words, a Wi-Fi Direct printer can recognize and interface with your Latitude D410 laptop from 1999, as all Wi-Fi Direct certified devices have to be able to control the one-to-one relationship. The goal here is pretty simple -- it's to create a protected connection between two devices over WiFi with as little hassle as possible. Think Bluetooth, but using WiFi. We also learned that "most" products certified will also support "one-to-many" connections, enabling a Wi-Fi Direct laptop to be in contact with a printer, connected HDTV and a tablet simultaneously, with no router in-between at any point. We should also point out that while 802.11a/g/n is supported over 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands, there's no requirement for Wi-Fi Direct products to support 802.11b, so legacy users may want to pay attention to that quirk.

There's also no new hardware requirements here, so in theory, any existing WiFi chipset could be upgraded via firmware to handle Wi-Fi Direct -- whether or not that'll happen on a large scale was a question the Wi-Fi Alliance couldn't answer for us. Finally, they noted that the app ecosystem is likely to make this whole rollout a lot more interesting, particularly considering that Direct is simply a pipe that software can dictate as it sees fit. We'll be keeping a close eye on the developments here; we've waited way too long for this to blossom, but we're pretty jazzed about the possibilities. Head on past the break for a video overview of how Wi-Fi Direct works.

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Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Wi-Fi Direct devices make connections that don't require a traditional network

AUSTIN, TX, October 25, 2010 – Wi-Fi has made an important leap in connecting devices anywhere, anytime - with or without a traditional network available. The Wi-Fi Alliance® today announced that it has begun certifying products capable of making device-to-device connections, designating those products Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Wi-Fi Direct.

With portable content like photos, videos and music taking center stage in the digital consumer experience, Wi-Fi Direct devices meet an important consumer need: directly connecting devices for applications such as content sharing, synching, printing, and gaming anywhere with ease. Current trends demonstrating how people use digital devices highlight the need for this compelling solution:

· Content is portable. In 2010, young Americans carry an average of about 1,100 songs, 50 videos, and 1,200 photos with them on digital devices.1

· Wi-Fi connects it all. With 82 million Wi-Fi-enabled portable consumer electronics and 216 million Wi-Fi enabled handsets set to ship this year, and growing at annual rates of 26 percent through 2014, consumers will be able to use Wi-Fi Direct to connect a huge range of digital devices.2

· Apps are at the forefront. New applications for portable devices emerge every day, offering compelling new ways to use connected devices. Adoption of apps on portable devices is growing at a 50 percent annual rate. 3

· Technology is social. In the United States, 64 percent of young people report that Wi-Fi connectivity helps them maintain relationships with their friends. Moreover, young Americans also report they often gather around devices for entertainment, with about 90 percent of people reporting they have gathered around a portable device to look at pictures, videos, or video games.4

"We designed Wi-Fi 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 Wi-Fi Alliance. "Wi-Fi 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."

Wi-Fi Direct-certified devices can connect with older Wi-Fi CERTIFIED devices, enabling a vast range of devices already in use to connect with products implementing Wi-Fi Direct from the certification program's inception. Wi-Fi Direct devices include a push-button set up mechanism, employ the latest WPA2™ security protections, and bring typical Wi-Fi throughput and range. Wi-Fi Direct-certified devices can support Wi-Fi CERTIFIED n technology as well as older forms of Wi-Fi.

"Wi-Fi Direct is a game-changing advance for Wi-Fi technology," said Victoria Fodale, Senior Analyst at ABI Research. "As people continue to increase the number of devices and the amount of content they carry, Wi-Fi Direct extends an already-compelling technology into an even more useful, convenient solution for all the things people want to do with their devices."

The first products to be designated Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Wi-Fi Direct, and which form the test suite for the certification program are:

· Atheros XSPAN® Dual-band 802.11n PCIe Mini Card (AR928x)

· Broadcom BCM43224 Dual-Band 802.11n 2x2 MIMO PCIe Half Mini Card

· Intel® Centrino® Advanced-N 6200

· Ralink MIMObility 802.11n 2x2 PCIe Half Mini Card

· Realtek RTL8192CE-VA4 HM92C00 PCIe mini card

In addition, the Cisco 2106 Wireless LAN Controller and Cisco Aironet 1240 Series Access Points are used in the certification test suite.

More information, including information for consumers and retailers, a list of Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Wi-Fi Direct products, the technical specification, white papers, and more, is available at