New Wi-Fi Aware Tech To Connect Nearby Devices

Mobile devices could soon begin supporting a new technology that automatically finds -- and connects to -- other devices and apps using proximity-based Wi-Fi. Called Wi-Fi Aware, the technology is undergoing certification by the Wi-Fi Alliance industry association.

Wi-Fi Aware devices will enable "contextual awareness" by continually scanning the surroundings for potential services to connect to, according to the alliance. The technology would allow a variety of businesses and service providers to deliver more personalized mobile experiences, the alliance said.

Wi-Fi Aware resembles the beacon technology increasingly being used by stores and other businesses to provide on-site, interactive and personalized services to people via Bluetooth-enabled connections to mobile devices. Unlike beacons, however, Wi-Fi Aware doesn't require the installation of special equipment by the business user or service or app provider.

Location via a 'Common Heartbeat'

"Wi-Fi Aware closes many of the gaps preventing other technologies from offering a rich experience where users can fully engage with the world around them," said Clint Brown, a business development director at Broadcom. "Its ability to work well indoors and in dense environments, and to facilitate an efficient device-to-device or traditional Wi-Fi connection, will make Wi-Fi Aware well suited for a variety of applications and environments."

Broadcom is one of several companies whose products form the test suite for the Wi-Fi Alliance's Wi-Fi Aware certification program. Other companies with products in the test suite include Intel, Marvell and Realtek.

Wi-Fi Aware establishes a "common heartbeat" among Wi-Fi devices to ensure they are "awake" at the same time and can discover one another. It uses a protocol that allows mobile devices in proximity to find one another using "publish" and "subscribe" messages, and then lets end users enable connection-based services and apps.

For example, people at a party could use Wi-Fi Aware to open a photo-sharing application that...

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