What Is Wi-Fi Direct And Can It Replace Bluetooth?

Late in October 2010, when Wi-Fi Alliance launched a new peer-to-peer (P2P) connection technology, Wi-Fi Direct, it was touted to be a competitor to Bluetooth technology. “Wi-Fi Direct empowers users to connect devices – when, where and how they want to, and our certification programme delivers products that work well together, regardless of the brand,” said Edgar Figueroa, CEO, Wi-Fi Alliance, during the launch. But can Wi-Fi Direct replace Bluetooth technology? Let us find out…

What Is Wi-Fi Direct And Can It Replace Bluetooth

What is Wi-Fi Direct Technology?

Wi-Fi Direct is a certification program from the Wi-Fi Alliance, which relies on employing a new method of directly connecting client devices (such as handsets and laptops) without a traditional network (that includes an access point or AP or a hotspot). In other words, with Wi-Fi Direct allows Wi-Fi devices to talk to each other without the need for wireless access points (hot spots).

However, the connection itself runs over traditional Wi-Fi technology. In their own words — “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.

When the Soft AP is activated, any Wi-Fi compatible device (which essentially refers to all notebooks and most mobile phones) can connect to the Soft AP via the ad-hoc protocol. More importantly, security on Wi-Fi Direct connections are considered fairly robust, due to its support for WPA2 encryption.

Currently, it looks like the Wi-Fi Alliance is hoping for implementation in laptops, tablets, smartphones and printers, but this is a technology that could be fitted into pretty much anything like digital photo frames, televisions, digital media players and what not.

Why Wi-Fi Direct Can Replace Traditional Bluetooth Technology?

Lets admit; Bluetooth technology is not perfect. For one, Bluetooth transfer speeds are generally slow enough to be considered unsuitable for the transfer of large files. And more importantly, Bluetooth is not immune to certain security flaws which further reduces its appeal for use among the security conscious. WiFi wireless networks are much better at security than bluetooth.

Wi-Fi Direct also beats Bluetooth for speed as it will connect at existing Wi-Fi speeds — up to 250 mbps, compared with 11 mbps maximum for any ad hoc wireless networking such as Bluetooth.

Even the slowest Wi-Fi standard that’s commonly support today – 802.11g – gives you some 18 times the theoretical performance of Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, and 2.25 times the performance of Bluetooth 3.0 + HS, and that’s only if you’re lucky enough to have two Bluetooth 3.0 devices. What makes Wi-Fi Direct even better is the fact that only one of the two devices needs to support the standard for it to work.

In addition, because Wi-Fi is already common in consumer and networking devices Wi-Fi Direct has a better chance of replacing bluetooth. Wi-Fi Direct is a compelling technology for simple, transactional tasks, such as syncing files, sharing photos or printing a document.Wi-Fi Direct devices can create direct connections with all of these legacy Wi-Fi devices today, and as Wi-Fi Direct becomes more broadly deployed, consumers will have access to an even richer experience. We would like to be proved wrong but once WiFi Direct takes off, it appears to be all set to replace Bluetooth technology soon!


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