Practical Technology

for practical people.

Wi-Fi Direct: Really fast but Really Necessary?

is one of those technologies that sounds like it makes sense, but then if you really think about using it in real life…. well then it doesn’t sound so great.

The idea is simple. There are two ways you can do Wi-Fi. There’s infrastructure, where you have an access point and a lot of clients and then there’s ad hoc, where laptops share network with one another in peer-to-peer mode. Ad hoc, as anyone who uses it knows, has awful throughput but the security is even worse. With Wi-Fi Direct, you get peer-to-peer Wi-Fi connections between devices like camera and a printer without an existing network.

That could be useful for grandma who just wants to get the photos of the new grandkids from her PC to her digital picture frame, except… well how does she do that again? The technology may make this possible, but I don’t see much in the way of the all-important implementation details worked out yet.

For everyone else, we already have our Wi-Fi networks right? Do we really need what amounts to a long range, high-speed rival to Bluetooth? I don’t think so.

Under the hood Wi-Fi Direct uses the same old Wi-Fi wireless technologies. According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, Wi-Fi Direct will work with 802.11a/b/g/n networks and it all be as easy as pie.

Except, of course, it won’t be that easy.

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