Have you ever been in a situation where you went out with your family or group of friends/colleagues to a crowded venue (think picnic, movies, trade show, shopping mall) and you ended up getting separated? You tried calling and texting each other, but the network was congested. You even thought of sharing your location via WhatsApp, but there wasn’t an Internet connection for that to happen! You couldn’t help feeling, “If only wireless connectivity could be easier!”
The new Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Wi-Fi Aware™, announced July 14 by the Wi-Fi Alliance, has a solution for that problem. Mobile devices are about to become truly “local” and “social.” What that means is that all mobile devices which are Wi-Fi Aware-capable will be able to discover each other and initiate “interactions” with each other in a pure peer-to-peer fashion. By interactions, I mean services and applications that we already use today on our phones like social networking, gaming, maps, VOIP chat, targeted ads and coupons. All these applications today need some form of Internet connectivity in order to run. Wi-Fi Aware provides for 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 might include friend-finder, social gaming, walkie-talkie or a product locater inside a marketplace. Wi-Fi CERTIFIED WI-FI Aware is a new certification program for a new capability of Wi-Fi previously known as “Neighbor Awareness Networking” (NAN). Wi-Fi Aware enables a unique peer-to-peer technology that does not require real-time connection to a Wi-Fi infrastructure, server, GPS or other geo-location, but instead uses direct device-to-device Wi-Fi to discover and exchange information. It enables devices to discover nearby information and services before even making a connection. Wi-Fi Aware makes social/local/mobile applications more useful and personalized, and works well in crowded environments. It is designed for power efficiency.
Marvell demonstrated sample NAN capabilities earlier this year at Mobile World Congress. The demo was used in the context of a navigation application, which traditionally has huge challenges operating indoors. Using two Marvell-powered smartphones, one user could discover his nearby colleague and use the mapping application via a Wi-Fi Direct connection to navigate right to him.
Wi-Fi™ Aware extends Wi-Fi’s capabilities with a real-time, energy-efficient discovery mechanism that will allow a multitude of proximity-based applications. The Marvell Avastar family of wireless connectivity chipsets supports the Wi-Fi Alliance NAN Specification and we hope to be Wi-Fi Aware-certified soon. In fact, Marvell’s recently announced Avastar Marvell 88W8997 chipset already supports the industry’s most advanced connectivity feature sets including 802.11mc, an IEEE standard for precise indoor location; BLE Angle of Arrival/Angle of Departure based on Bluetooth SIG standards and Multi-User MIMO for robust wireless connectivity. These advanced features, combined with Wi-Fi Aware, will allow our customers to build exciting new products and enable application developers to add a whole new dimension to how mobile devices interact with each other. This will open the door to truly Social & Local mobile applications. So with the new Wi-Fi Aware, if you aren’t sure where you want to go next, I’m sure there will be an app right around the corner that will help you.