Wi-Fi Direct lets devices talk to each other without a network

If you want to wirelessly send media to another device — like, say, from your laptop to your sexy Google TV product — it typically involves the tedious exercise of connecting the two devices your Wi-Fi network. Since they both have Wi-Fi, couldn't you just save time by eliminating the middleman that is your Wi-Fi router? That's exactly what a new tech called Wi-Fi Direct does.

The whole thrust of Wi-Fi Direct is device-to-device transmission, similar to Bluetooth. While Wi-Fi already has an ad-hoc mode that does something similar, it's pretty clumsy and limited (for example it doesn't let you keep a connection to a network while you're using it). By contrast, Wi-Fi Direct is intended to be simple and seamless: you need to print from your laptop or tablet, you find your Wi-Fi printer that's in range, and you fire away without ever going through an access point.

Besides boring stuff like printing, the new tech will unshackle some mobile apps from their need for network access. For example, the cute video below shows two people playing the same game together on their mobile devices without being anywhere near a hotspot. Even better, the new tech requires that only one of the devices involved be Wi-Fi Direct-certified. One downside: Wi-Fi Direct supports Wi-Fi standards a, g and n, but not b.

So when will Wi-Fi Direct be available to everyone? The Wi-Fi Alliance begins certifications today (here's a list of the first crop of devices), though it'll probably take until next year for products to trickle into the mainstream. We can't wait. Combine this with the coming "Super" Wi-Fi, with its extra-long range and speed, and the wireless future is looking pretty bright.

Wi-Fi Alliance, via Engadget

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