By Kevin C. Tofel, GigaOM Getting devices connected to share files or engage in multi-person apps looks like it’s going to get much easier based on Wi-Fi Direct, a new initiative from the Wi-Fi Alliance. The technology uses existing Wi-Fi radios for a direct, peer-to-peer connection between two or more Wi-Fi devices. No external router or access point is needed to get connected, and even older Wi-Fi devices can connect to Wi-Fi Direct certified gadgets. There are no messy configuration steps involved either; certified Wi-Fi direct devices can securely and seamlessly connect to each other whenever in range of each other. Essentially, Wi-Fi Direct sounds like a simplified version of Bluetooth, but based on what I’ve seen, it’s even easier to use. It leverages the speeds and ranges of traditional Wi-Fi solutions; a laptop could shoot photos to a large screen television from hundreds of feet away, for example. Or, a Wi-Fi Blu-ray player in one room could pipe content to another room. That flexibility, combined with the simplicity and growth in devices shipping with Wi-Fi radios, makes this a technology worth watching. The number of consumer electronics and handsets with Wi-Fi radios is expected to grow by 26 percent a year through 2015, according to ABI Research. Here at the Consumer Electronics Show, I got to see Wi-Fi Direct in action and snapped a short video of some demonstration applications. Using a platform called Qwarq, I saw Wi-Fi Direct apps such as chat and gaming between two devices to show off the peer-to-peer connectivity. The gaming app in particular demonstrated practically no latency and neither application required any configuration steps to connect the devices.
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