It's been on the cards for a while, but now Wi-Fi Direct is finally storming out of the gates. This week, the Wi-Fi Alliance announced that it has begun the certification process, meaning that approved hardware could be with us before Christmas.
The new standard will make it easier for devices to connect to each other without requiring a dedicated access-point, enabling quicker and easier sharing, syncing and printing over the existing protocol. In essence, it's trying to achieve the same results as Bluetooth, and in practice, will be competing directly against the low-power technology, as well as Wireless USB.
Though connections will be protected by WPA2, setup aims to be much easier than competing systems and will sometimes require nothing more than the push of a button to pair devices. Groups can also be created, allowing one device, such as a PC, to be connected to a number of peripherals simultaneously.
The new program will allow products to bear the 'Wi-Fi Certified' badge, and so far chips from Realtek, Ralink, Atheros, Broadcom and Intel have made the list. However, with the process now underway, certified consumer devices are expected to start reaching the market just in time for Christmas, with many more arriving in the new year.
To sweeten the deal, Wi-Fi Direct devices can connect - as a ‘host', or ‘group owner', to use the correct phrase - directly to non-Direct components, meaning that a huge number of devices already available will be at least partially compatible. The protocol is also based in software, meaning that - at least in theory - existing hardware could see a firmware upgrade that would make it fully Wi-Fi Direct compliant.
More details on the protocol can be found from the Wi-Fi Alliance, or in this handy video.