'Wi-Fi Direct' to Simplify Peer-to-Peer Wireless Networking

MacRumors

macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
49,611
10,912
https://www.macrumors.com/images/macrumorsthreadlogodarkd.png

The Wi-Fi Alliance, a consortium of companies that includes Apple, yesterday announced that it has developed a new specification that will facilitate direct peer-to-peer connections via Wi-Fi between devices without the need for an intervening base station. The specification, to be made available on new products and via software updates to existing products beginning in mid-2010, would compete with Bluetooth and allow for significantly faster data transfer speeds, although at a cost of increased power consumption.
The specification, previously code-named "Wi-Fi peer-to-peer," can be implemented in any Wi-Fi 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.

"Wi-Fi Direct represents a leap forward for our industry. Wi-Fi users worldwide will benefit from a single-technology solution to transfer content and share applications quickly and easily among devices, even when a Wi-Fi access point isn't available," said Wi-Fi Alliance executive director Edgar Figueroa. "The impact is that Wi-Fi will become even more pervasive and useful for consumers and across the enterprise."
While some Wi-Fi devices are already able to support ad hoc wireless networks, the practice is limited in security and other features and is not officially part of the certified Wi-Fi standards. Wi-Fi Direct will include all of the features of standard Wi-Fi networks without the need to connect via a wireless base station.

Article Link: 'Wi-Fi Direct' to Simplify Peer-to-Peer Wireless Networking
 

motulist

macrumors 601
Dec 2, 2003
4,155
461
This is a cool step in the right direction toward total interconnectivity. Now if the tech gurus could just make an easy way to send large files over the net then we'd be all set.
 

Chekote

macrumors newbie
Apr 21, 2008
8
0
This story has to be grossly over simplified, because ad-hoc Wi-Fi networks have existed ever since Wi-Fi was created.

I'm pretty sure they mean a zero-config protocol, and not just ad-hoc.
 

sammich

macrumors 601
Sep 26, 2006
4,289
218
Sarcasmville.
So in the case a network tower is down, they can possibly use this to form a vast web of interconnected phones.

I wonder how you manage security when your company no longer has a single WDS service for it's whole area, and every single employee has a Wi-Fi phone turned on and you're sitting in your office, trying to wade through the 50 wireless networks thanks to this new development.
 

rtdunham

macrumors 6502a
Jun 21, 2003
982
77
St. Petersburg, FL, Northern KY
here's what matters to us now

So: Are my 2009 MBP and iPhone 3G among the "hundreds of millions of Wi-Fi CERTIFIED legacy devices already in use" on which this function can be implemented with software? When did apple begin producing devices so certified (assuming it has)?
 

notjustjay

macrumors 603
Sep 19, 2003
6,052
159
Canada, eh?
Mesh network?

I've been playing with a new toy called SONOS, it's a multi-zone wireless music distribution system for your house. It brings along its own proprietary wireless network which is based on 802.11n. From my understanding, it's a mesh network, meaning each unit acts as a repeater for the whole network. The more units you have going, the stronger the signal to each one (as it talks to its neighboring unit, and not necessarily the wireless router) and in so doing you also increase the range of your total network every time you add a node.

Although that particular implementation is proprietary to the Sonos units (you can't attach your laptop to the mesh network), it certainly is a neat concept and it would be cool if regular devices could do it too. I suppose it would be a security issue for public places though, but imagine a coffee shop or airport lounge where the MORE iPhones and laptops were in use, the stronger the overall network was.
 

sammich

macrumors 601
Sep 26, 2006
4,289
218
Sarcasmville.
I've been playing with a new toy called SONOS, it's a multi-zone wireless music distribution system for your house. It brings along its own proprietary wireless network which is based on 802.11n. From my understanding, it's a mesh network, meaning each unit acts as a repeater for the whole network. The more units you have going, the stronger the signal to each one (as it talks to its neighboring unit, and not necessarily the wireless router) and in so doing you also increase the range of your total network every time you add a node.

Although that particular implementation is proprietary to the Sonos units (you can't attach your laptop to the mesh network), it certainly is a neat concept and it would be cool if regular devices could do it too. I suppose it would be a security issue for public places though, but imagine a coffee shop or airport lounge where the MORE iPhones and laptops were in use, the stronger the overall network was.
WDS (wiki) has been around for a while, and most routers today can serve that function. And as I said above, it would be nasty if everyone managed to create networks of their own, and as you drive down the street you'll be picking up other people's walking around, other people's from their phone in their car etc.
 

Mal

macrumors 603
Jan 6, 2002
6,249
17
Orlando
So: Are my 2009 MBP and iPhone 3G among the "hundreds of millions of Wi-Fi CERTIFIED legacy devices already in use" on which this function can be implemented with software? When did apple begin producing devices so certified (assuming it has)?
When it started putting Airport (802.11b-g-n) in it's computers and mobile devices. Those are all WiFi certified.

jW
 

spillproof

macrumors 68020
Jun 4, 2009
2,028
2
USA
What about the places that do not allow P2P networking, i.e. my college campus. Or is this different?
 

azentropy

macrumors 68020
Jul 19, 2002
2,449
1,618
Surprise
Hopefully they will push it to the iPhone as soon as they can. I've been a bit disappointed with the peer-to-peer Bluetooth adoption rate for games on the iPhone. Being able to create a ad-hoc network anywhere would be great.
 

sammich

macrumors 601
Sep 26, 2006
4,289
218
Sarcasmville.
What about the places that do not allow P2P networking, i.e. my college campus. Or is this different?
P2P, as in illegal downloading programs like bittorrent/gnutella etc are banned. P2P, as in the concept from connecting directly to the device you wish to connect to without any other device serving as a host.
 

KindredMAC

macrumors 6502a
Sep 23, 2003
971
203
So in the case a network tower is down, they can possibly use this to form a vast web of interconnected phones.

I wonder how you manage security when your company no longer has a single WDS service for it's whole area, and every single employee has a Wi-Fi phone turned on and you're sitting in your office, trying to wade through the 50 wireless networks thanks to this new development.
How is this any different than going into a shopping mall or airport or just walking down a major city street and being inundated with 10's of "free" Wi-Fi hotspots?
 

sammich

macrumors 601
Sep 26, 2006
4,289
218
Sarcasmville.
How is this any different than going into a shopping mall or airport or just walking down a major city street and being inundated with 10's of "free" Wi-Fi hotspots?
Well now, in addition to those, every single smartphone has that same ability. So you're walking down the city street past a Starbucks, you'll get Starbucks and maybe the bookstore next door. BUT now, every businessman who is waiting at that same starbucks can have his BB/iPhone be a network of it's own. See it now?
 

spillproof

macrumors 68020
Jun 4, 2009
2,028
2
USA
P2P, as in illegal downloading programs like bittorrent/gnutella etc are banned. P2P, as in the concept from connecting directly to the device you wish to connect to without any other device serving as a host.
Oh, I understand now. Thanks :)
 

skate71290

macrumors 6502a
Jan 14, 2009
556
0
UK
PS3 Online Gaming Improvements?

i know this is totally off topic, but does this mean that there is the potential for online gaming on Consoles and PCs a lot better since there theoretically doesn't need to be a host... in addition i would love to be able to wirelessly sync my iphone, and as a funny side note a fly landed on my time capsule and died... must be that hot lol :eek:
 

twist16

macrumors newbie
Apr 17, 2008
8
0
how is this any different to "create a computer to computer wireless network" from the wifi menu?
 

Konstanty

macrumors member
Feb 7, 2008
48
0
P2P, as in illegal downloading programs like bittorrent/gnutella etc are banned. P2P, as in the concept from connecting directly to the device you wish to connect to without any other device serving as a host.
No, not quite. Bittorrent is not inherently illegal. It's just a filesharing protocol. Doing illegal things with bittorent is illegal.

Reluctant as I am to cite Wikipedia as a source for anything, it does have a reasonably good introduction to the topic:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BitTorrent_(protocol)
 

nkawtg72

macrumors 6502
Aug 16, 2007
308
0
Well now, in addition to those, every single smartphone has that same ability. So you're walking down the city street past a Starbucks, you'll get Starbucks and maybe the bookstore next door. BUT now, every businessman who is waiting at that same starbucks can have his BB/iPhone be a network of it's own. See it now?
why i understand your concerns, i think you may be overreacting so early in the game here. all that is known is the technology and what its abilities would be, NOT how anyone plans to implement it.

to clarify, you are criticizing the possible implementation of WiFi Direct, not the technology, correct?

honestly, it sounds to me like the whole point of the technology is for devices to be more "aware" of other devices around it using WiFi Direct, which if you think about it would mean the user isn't having to go in to network settings to actually "look" for something to connect to. it will "connect" with whatever it finds without user intervention. hence the security hurdles.

i think the implementation would be at the 3rd party software level, where a game for instance would be able to find other devices in its range, that also have the game running at the time. or the print control panel would already see and list what printers are available to print to as a user enters a room/office. all of this is very similar to what we have already with Bluetooth as well as over Ethernet, only they're taking it to WiFi.

doesn't seem to me to be anymore complicated than that.
 

nkawtg72

macrumors 6502
Aug 16, 2007
308
0
how is this any different to "create a computer to computer wireless network" from the wifi menu?
as i interpret it, what is different is the creation of an ad-hoc network will not be necessary. the "connection" between devices will be automatic and 1 on 1.

in an ad-hoc network, one of the devices is actually playing the part of a wireless access point. from there one or more devices then connect to it. the ad-hoc host, isn't "aware" of the other devices until they attempt a connection.

with WiFi Direct, the devices "see" each other automatically and are able to communicate freely without any device playing the part of host. it's much like a person walking into a crowded room can see everyone else and is free to begin conversation with anyone they choose without first standing on a soapbox and announcing their presence to the whole room.

in my previous post above, i pointed out that this really isn't any different than what is already done over Ethernet or Bluetooth (in simple terms). they're just trying to bring the same simplicity to WiFi.
 

sammich

macrumors 601
Sep 26, 2006
4,289
218
Sarcasmville.
No, not quite. Bittorrent is not inherently illegal. It's just a filesharing protocol. Doing illegal things with bittorent is illegal.

Reluctant as I am to cite Wikipedia as a source for anything, it does have a reasonably good introduction to the topic:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BitTorrent_(protocol)
I'll omit the 'illegal' descriptor then. But nonetheless, P2P services are a huge strain on large networks like uni's where students are bound to take advantage of the open network.

why i understand your concerns, i think you may be overreacting so early in the game here. all that is known is the technology and what its abilities would be, NOT how anyone plans to implement it.

to clarify, you are criticizing the possible implementation of WiFi Direct, not the technology, correct?

honestly, it sounds to me like the whole point of the technology is for devices to be more "aware" of other devices around it using WiFi Direct, which if you think about it would mean the user isn't having to go in to network settings to actually "look" for something to connect to. it will "connect" with whatever it finds without user intervention. hence the security hurdles.

i think the implementation would be at the 3rd party software level, where a game for instance would be able to find other devices in its range, that also have the game running at the time. or the print control panel would already see and list what printers are available to print to as a user enters a room/office. all of this is very similar to what we have already with Bluetooth as well as over Ethernet, only they're taking it to WiFi.

doesn't seem to me to be anymore complicated than that.
Yeah, maybe a little too far. But this implementation is 'like' bluetooth except that it's far more powerful. The range of these little phone 'base stations' will exceed BT by an order of magnitude.

So the implementation from vendors is most important. Not everyone will do the whole 'several devices can connect simultaneously' implementation in full for security reasons/power etc. We'll just hope there is some control over this.
 
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.