Page last updated at 22:07 GMT, Wednesday, 14 October 2009 23:07 UK

Wi-fi 'to get a whole lot easier'

By Maggie Shiels
BBC technology reporter, Silicon Valley

Laptops
Industry watchers say Wi-Fi Direct could have far-reaching implications

The world of wi-fi is to become a whole lot easier thanks to a major technology upgrade, says an industry group.

The Wi-Fi Alliance said it would soon finish work on a new specification called Wi-Fi Direct.

It will let wi-fi devices like phones and laptops connect to one another without joining a traditional network.

The Wi-Fi Alliance - whose members include Intel, Apple and Cisco - hopes devices with the new technology will be on the market by the middle of 2010.

Owners of devices without Wi-Fi Direct will be able to upgrade through a software download, says the technology consortium.

The Wi-Fi Alliance's marketing director, Kelly Davis-Felner, told BBC News: "This is going to be a quick and convenient way to use wi-fi in future to print, synch, share and display.

"The consumer is going to experience this as a very easy-to-use mechanism that will be quite seamless."

Threat to Bluetooth?

Wi-Fi Direct will automatically scan for local existing hotspots and any wi-fi-enabled devices, such as cameras, phones and computers.

The Alliance says the specification will search for both consumer electronics and office applications, enabling devices to connect from across a home or workplace.

Victoria Foote, senior analyst at In-Stat, said it was a "terrific innovation".

Ben Parr, co-editor of Mashable.com, told BBC News the potential impact could be far-reaching.

But industry watchers also say the technology could pose a threat to the future of Bluetooth and perhaps do away with the need to use wi-fi routers in some places.



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