Imagine wi-fi without the hotspot . . .
- You’re in the middle of a country cemetery taking pictures and your camera’s memory card is full. Do you have to stop? Not if you’ve got your laptop with you and your memory card is an Eye-Fi card with wi-fi built in. You can transfer your photos to your iPad or laptop and then continue taking more photos.
- At a genealogy conference, you meet a research cousin who has the goods on that branch of the family that’s dogged you for years. She’s willing to share and, after a couple of swipes and taps, sends the data from her Droid to your iPhone. You swap contact information between your phones too so you can continue to collaborate.
- Touring an historic battlefield, you find information kiosks located around the site that will stream a multi-media presentation to your smart phone describing what happened at this spot during the battle.
This won’t be an imagination exercise for long, thanks to Wi-Fi Direct™. This is not a product, but a technology standard designed to allow wi-fi-enabled devices – from smart phones to laptops to printers – to transfer data directly between themselves without the need of a wi-fi hotspot or wireless network. So, if you bump into an old friend at the beach, you’ll be able to “beam” contact information directly between your smart phones.
But wait, it gets better! You’re probably not going to have to buy new equipment to make this happen. Most existing wi-fi devices already have the hardware necessary to function. A software upgrade may be necessary to provide the “direct” functionality. You can find a list of certified devices at the Wi-Fi Alliance site.
How long will we have to wait for Wi-Fi Direct? The hardware is in place, so my guess is that apps are the issue right now. For example, the iPhone address book app is designed to sync the entire address book between the device and the desktop. Either the address book will need to be updated or a new app created to deal with one-to-one address sharing. According to the descriptions of the upcoming iPad iOS upgrade, wireless printing will be an added capability. Will a “traditional” wireless network be necessary or can printing be done “direct”?
This is one technology that we can all use at minimal cost but with huge benefits. It can’t get here soon enough! As soon as I hear anything, I’ll pass it on.