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What is Wi-Fi Direct?

what is wifi direct

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As technology advances, Wi-Fi is becoming increasingly common in more and more types of electronic equipment; when we arrive home or at the office, the first thing we usually do is connect our smartphone to the router for an internet connection.

There is the other type of wireless network called “Wi-Fi Direct” (or WFD), which has been available for over ten years, you might not hear about it before, but it’s also quite useful for our daily life.

Wi-Fi Direct was introduced by Wi-Fi Alliance in 2010 to address the growing demand for wireless connectivity among consumer electronics products. The technology was initially designed to allow people to set up peer-to-peer connections between laptops and tablets easily. Over time the technology evolved into something much bigger. Today, Wi-Fi Direct is used to connect smartphones, printers, cameras, speakers, TVs, and many other types of devices together.

However, what is Wi-Fi Direct? What’s the difference between Wi-Fi AND Wi-Fi direct? Let’s take a look at it in this article.

What is Wi-Fi Direct?

Wi-Fi Direct is a Wi-Fi technology for the pear to pear wireless connections that allow two Wi-Fi-enabled devices to connect directly without an access point. That means Wi-Fi Direct connects two devices directly without requiring them to join any network, such as a wireless router.

The Wi-Fi Alliance defines Wi-Fi Direct as “a technology used for wireless personal area networks (WPANs). Devices communicate directly with each other over short distances, usually within the range of a few meters.”
Wi-Fi Direct allows Wi-Fi devices to communicate efficiently, allowing people to easily transfer documents, photos, music, video, and other files among computers, tablets, smartphones, smart TVs, etc.

How Does Wi-Fi Direct Work?

The primary purpose of developing the Wi-Fi Direct standard is to make it easy to set up and fast as other Wi-Fi connections. The way Wi-Fi Direct (Wi-Fi P2P) works are relatively simple:

A Wi-Fi Direct broadcasts a signal containing its SSID (Service set identifier) so that other devices know that they can join the network. Users can see which devices SSID are available for them, then request a specific one for connection, or they may be invited by someone else to join their network. If two or more Wi-Fi Direct-certified device connects directly, they create a Wi-Fi Direct Group using Wi-Fi Protected Setup™.

When you connect two devices using Wi-Fi Direct, one of the devices acts as a wireless access point (similar to a Wi-Fi router), and the other becomes a client. It doesn’t require any manual intervention; everything is an automatic connection.

Difference Between Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi Direct

A conventional Wi-Fi network uses wireless access points (WAPs or APs, such as Wi-Fi routers) to connect clients to the Internet. These devices usually include three main functions:

  • Physical support for Wi-Fi and Ethernet networks
  • Network bridging and routing between different types of networks
  • Provision services for adding and removing devices from the network.

A typical Wi-Fi network at home usually consists of computers, tablets, smartphones, printers, TVs, etc. Most wireless networks are configured in infrastructure mode, where an access point serves as a central connection point for Wi-Fi-capable clients. All connection between devices goes through the access point (such as a wireless Router).

In contrast, Wi-Fi Direct devices don’t require additional wireless access points to connect. When two devices with Wi-Fi direct support connect for the first time, they will negotiate which device will become the access point and which one is the client.

With Wi-Fi Direct, smartphones, tablets, laptops, printers, and gaming devices can create their own Wi-Fi networks without an internet connection; You can connect other Wi-Fi Direct-enabled devices to send files, play music, and share apps quickly and easily. Since Wi-Fi Direct doesn’t require access points or internet connections, they’re perfect for use anywhere at any time.

WiFi Direct vs WiFi

Wi-Fi Direct and Security

In addition to connecting devices directly to each other, Wi-Fi Direct can also help you set up a secure ad hoc network that doesn’t require a central router. Wi-Fi Direct relies on Wi-Fi security protocol (WPA2) for security. It’s a simple method to securely connect two devices via Wi-Fi, so forget about using passwords.

Devices Compatible with Wi-Fi Direct

Wi-Fi Direct is a technology that allows devices to connect directly without requiring a router, making it easier to set up and use. Most modern laptops and desktops are already compatible with Wi-Fi Direct; however, some older models might require drivers.

The first big company supporting WiFDirect was Intel, followed by others, including Marvell, Athero (Broadcom), Realtek, and Ralink. Your PC’s wireless card may be from one of these companies.

Since Windows 8, Microsoft has supported the Wi-Fi Direct for PCs, and all Windows 10 versions support it.

On Android device version 2.3, Google introduced support for Wi-Fi Direct.

With iOS 7, Apple has added support for Wi-Fi direct with different names like AirDrop or AirPlay.

On the Xbox, Wi-Fi Direct support came out in 2013.

All ViewPlay wireless presentations and wireless conference and collaboration systems support the Wi-Fi Direct function.

Applications of Wi-Fi Direct:

Some of the most common applications of Wi-Fi Direct these days include:

  • Fast file transfer: Wi-Fi Direct is an excellent method for transferring large amounts of data between two computers when using wired connections isn’t feasible.
  • Share documents: share documents between phones and computers.
  • Wireless Printers: Wi-Fi Direct allows you to print wirelessly from any device that supports Wi-Fi Direct.
  • Screen mirroring: Wi-Fi Direct allows you to share any photos or video from your mobile devices on your TV, projector, or digital picture frame. Miracast, based on WiFI direct protocol, is used for those screen mirroring applications.

Wi-Fi Direct Limitations:

WiFi Direct works well for many scenarios. However, WiFi Direct doesn’t work across different operating systems, such as iOS and Android. And it won’t connect to routers, switches, hubs, bridges, or repeaters.

Difference Between Wi-Fi Direct and Bluetooth?

WiFi Direct is similar to Bluetooth in that it allows you to connect multiple devices via a single connection. In terms of setup, Bluetooth and WiFi Direct do not need to install software, making things easier if you’re trying to pair two devices together. However, there are some critical differences between the two technologies.

WiFi Direct is a standard developed by the Wi-Fi Alliance that allows you to connect your smartphone to your laptop or PC directly. You do not need to use another device, like a router. This feature works well for those who want to transfer files via USB cable or sync folders quickly. The transfer speeds of WiFi Direct are the same as Wi-Fi. WiFi Direct provides a secure way of connecting devices without requiring passwords or PIN codes.

Bluetooth is another protocol that allows devices to communicate with one another, and it is a short-range radio frequency used to connect mobile phones, headsets, speakers, laptops, tablets, etc. It uses low power and does not require additional hardware. However, it cannot transmit large amounts of data. Bluetooth is great for quickly transferring small amounts of data, such as sending pictures or playing music. Bluetooth needs a Pin code for pairing and connection.

Conclusion

WiFi Direct is an underappreciated technology that allows many devices to communicate seamlessly with each other and share their resources without the need for a centralized wireless access point.

 

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