This article originally appeared in the March 2011 issue of INTERNET TELEPHONY.
I love Wi-Fi. It is full of surprises. It galloped to AT&T's rescue when the new iPhone (News - Alert) swamped the data network. It impishly sabotaged Steve Jobs’ iPhone 4 announcement extravaganza by being too busy with live bloggers. It is one of the most successful radio technologies ever.In October 2009 the Wi-Fi Alliance (News - Alert) announced a new flavor of Wi-Fi, called Wi-Fi Direct.
The problem Wi-Fi Direct aims to solve is that certain use cases consume twice as much bandwidth as they need to. If you want to play a video from your laptop to your Wi-Fi-enabled TV, each frame of the video takes two trips through the ether in your room. It goes from the computer to the access point, then from the access point to the TV. With Wi-Fi Direct it bypasses the access point, going straight to the TV.
Here's a surprise: Wi-Fi Direct may be better than Bluetooth on its home turf. A company called Ozmo Devices has succeeded in making Wi-Di chips that are in the same price ballpark as Bluetooth chips, but consume half the power in any given application. At CES (News - Alert) in January, Ozmo announced a wireless loudspeaker extender from Logitech and a wireless mouse from HP. There will soon be a lot more device types. The proposition is compelling. All laptops and smartphones already have Wi-Fi. If a Wi-Fi connection is more power-efficient and higher bandwidth than a Bluetooth connection, what motivation is there for using a Bluetooth radio?
The primary application for Bluetooth is wireless headsets. Ozmo has not yet announced a Wi-Fi headset, but it is just a matter of time. The Ozmo chip is small enough, cheap enough and claims enough processing power to run a headset with twice the battery life of a Bluetooth headset.
Watching the smartphone industry hammering away at the low end of the PC industry, it is interesting to see an attack in the opposite direction: Wi-Fi is a technology with a PC heritage that has a shot at shaking up the mobile phone world.
Michael Stanford (News - Alert) (News - Alert) has been an entrepreneur and strategist in Voice-over-IP for over a decade. Visit his blog at www.wirevolution.com. To read more of Michael’s articles, please visit his columnist. Page.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi