The Las Vegas based gadget banquet that is CES has had hardware junkies salivating this week, with everything from a pimped up self-driving Mercedes to re-imagining of the Sony Walkman. Away from the big buck consumer kit however, there have been a few bits of interesting news. Yesterday, the Wi-Fi alliance took the opportunity to show off its ‘Wi-Fi Aware’ platform – a new beacon-esque technology certification.
Fundamentally, Wi-Fi Aware is a new communication standard which allows compatible devices in close proximity to each other to exchange information independent of any external Wi-Fi networks. Speaking on behalf of the non-profit Alliance, CEO Edgar Figueroa described the technology as the “first version of ‘smart wi-fi’”.
Wi-Fi Aware is primarily envisioned as a tool for crowded indoor environments such as train stations or parties, where, thenextweb writes, it will likely see the most use. For this reason, the Alliance have also optimised the tech to minimise power usage, given that most people will be tapping in via-mobile devices.
As Figuero admits, the Alliance has yet to conceive the full range of services for Wi-Fi Aware, but you can easily imagine uses for it in video and image sharing, and location specific information such as advertising and promotions. In this commercial vein, it’s also been designed to be a jumping point for social media sites like Tumblr, Linkedin and Facebook to “innovate on top of”.
As with Bluetooth, users will be able to decide whether they want to opt-in to open up their device for discovering other devices and making connections. However, unlike Bluetooth, Wi-Fi Aware will be “device agnostic”, meaning users will be able to jump between operating systems, and across multiple platforms.
For now, the first wave of Wi-Fi Aware certified devices are expected to be launched in the latter half of the year, and will probably be limited to smartphones, putting the onus on mobile devs to get their apps up to speed. But perhaps the biggest leap in adoption will happen when it makes its way into Internet of Things devices, which opens up a fathomless pit of use cases for the technology. Once the switch is flicked, all users will need to do is update their devices to get started.