Someone’s got to say it, so I will: “I can’t imagine a world without WiFi any more.” Interestingly, it looks like the analysts and the industry agree – and the standard’s going through changes which mean gadgets with a WIFi radio built-in may soon be able to communicate together with, or without, a base station.

What’s happening? Well, according to the WIFi Alliance, the consortium that loves, nurtures, cares for and develops WiFi, the group – which includes Intel, Cisco, and Apple among its members – is preparing to introduce a new technology called Wi-Fi Direct that will transforms gadgets into hotspots. This exciting new tech was announced this morning…

We’re not gonna see these new snazzy devices appear until mid-2010, when the upgrade happens. The tech turns WiFi-equipped gadgets into mini access points, able to create local wireless connections with other WiFi-enabled devices or broadband modems within a radius of 300-feet.

The WiFi Alliance expects to begin certification for this new specification in mid-2010, and products which achieve the certification will be designated Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Wi-Fi Direct.

The specification, previously code-named "Wi-Fi peer-to-peer," can be implemented in any WiFi device, from mobile phones, cameras, printers, and notebook computers, to human interface devices such as keyboards and headphones.

Significantly, devices that have been certified to the new specification will also be able to create connections with hundreds of millions of Wi-Fi CERTIFIED legacy devices already in use. Devices will be able to make a one-to-one connection, or a group of several devices can connect simultaneously.

"WiFi Direct represents a leap forward for our industry.  WiFi users worldwide will benefit from a single-technology solution to transfer content and share applications quickly and easily among devices, even when a WiFi access point isn’t available," said WiFi Alliance executive director Edgar Figueroa. "The impact is that WiFi will become even more pervasive and useful for consumers and across the enterprise."

"With WiFi technology already shipping in millions of consumer electronics devices and handsets every year, this is a terrific innovation for the industry," said Victoria Fodale, senior analyst and market intelligence manager at In-Stat. "Empowering devices to move content and share applications without having to join a network brings even more convenience and utility to Wi-Fi-enabled devices."

The WiFi Alliance plans to publish its peer-to-peer specification upon completion, and will begin certifying devices for the Wi-Fi Direct designation in 2010.  Only Wi-Fi Alliance member companies will be able to certify devices to the new specification.

Now, a little history lesson for those who’ve missed it, or new Mac news writers who just may not know this but need to use this story on their website anyway (don’t forget the back-link, it’s good manners, which is why we do it)…

Way back in 1999, Apple introduced an interesting new technology it called AirPort, ushering this in alongside the iMac successor that was the iBook. And the iBook had an optional extra – AirPort, or WiFI..

Apple was the first mainstream computer manufacturer ever design and sell a mainstream product equipped with integrated wireless networking (WiFI, AirPort). The first, alright? Hence the video we’ve provided…

From WikiPedia: “On the iBook’s introduction, Phil Schiller, Apple’s VP of Marketing, held an iBook while jumping off a height as data from the computer was transferred to another in order to demonstrate the wireless networking capability. The display bezel contained the wireless antenna, which attached to an optional internal wireless card. Lucent helped create this wireless capability which established the industry standard. Apple released the AirPort Wireless Base Station at the same time.”

Fast forward to now and ABI Research predicts WiFi connections in consumer electronics devices will rise from 113 million in 2008 to more than 285 million by 2012.


“While many consumer electronics devices initially adopted Ethernet connections due to cost and potential wireless connectivity issues, WiFi has become the dominant LAN connection type in several device categories,” says digital home practice director Jason Blackwell. “Now we’re seeing WiFi making its way more aggressively into components including digital televisions.”

Are you following this story so far? It’s time for the take home:

In 2010, new WIFi products capable of creating local networks with other WiFi products will reach market.

These products will also be able to network with legacy devices, as the new standard will be backward compatible.

Apple will likely lead the standard once again, likely introducing products capable of networking with other WiFi-enabled products earlier than most other partners involved in development of the standard.

If anyone perhaps wants to use this information to start a new tablet rumour, do feel free. It has been a few days since the last one, it’s mid-week, so why not.

Via: BusinessWeek

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