When designing semiconductor chips, there’s a certain sense of excitement knowing that the built-in capabilities you create will power new features for users. But when you combine that with new industry standards, it opens the doors to a new frontier. With Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Wi-Fi Aware™ announced in July—that new frontier happens to be wherever you are and whatever is around you!
Wi-Fi Alliance’s new Wi-Fi Aware extends Wi-Fi’s capabilities with a real-time, energy-efficient discovery mechanism that will enable more innovative proximity-based applications. For example, have you ever been in a situation where you are out with your family, a group of friends, or colleagues at a crowded venue (think picnic, movie theater, theme park, trade show, shopping mall) and you get separated? You try calling, but the network is congested or the environment is indoors and too dense for a connection and you are unable to make a call. Texting doesn’t work either. You even think of sharing your location via a popular app, but without Internet connectivity—you get nothing. If only wireless connectivity could be more convenient.
Wi-Fi Aware offers a solution for that problem. Mobile devices are about to become truly “local” and “social.” What that means is all mobile devices which are certified for Wi-Fi Aware can discover each other and initiate “interactions” with each other in a pure peer-to-peer fashion. Interactions include services and applications that we already use today on our phones, such as social networking, gaming, maps, VOIP chat, targeted ads or coupons. All of these applications today rely on some form of Internet connectivity. Wi-Fi Aware provides a mechanism for users to initiate interactions with people and services in their “proximity” without the need to be connected to a wireless access point. Common examples would be friend-finder, social gaming application, walkie-talkie or product locater inside a marketplace.
The Wi-Fi Aware certification program will offer a new Wi-Fi capability, and is based on the Wi-Fi Alliance Neighbor Awareness Networking (NAN) Technical Specification. Wi-Fi Aware enables devices to discover nearby information and services before making a connection. Wi-Fi Aware makes social/local/mobile applications more useful, and it also works well in crowded environments. It is designed for power efficiency and offers users more contextual awareness to enable more immediate, personalized applications that continuously scan surroundings, anticipate actions and notify users of services or selected preferences. Wi-Fi Aware will make the user’s environment much more dynamic and interactive.
Earlier this year, Marvell demonstrated proximity capabilities in products at Mobile World Congress. The demo was used in the context of a navigation application, which traditionally has huge challenges operating indoors. Using two smartphones, one user could discover his nearby colleague and use the mapping application via a Wi-Fi Direct® connection to navigate to him. Wi-Fi Aware will enable a multitude of other proximity-based applications like this one. Marvell’s recently announced chipset Avastar 88W8997 will support advanced proximity capabilities, with plans to attain Wi-Fi Aware certification, along with unique indoor location capabilities like 802.11mc.
With Wi-Fi Aware, if you aren’t sure where you want to go next or who is the right person to play that new game with, there will likely be an application around the corner that will help you.
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