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 could be used by anyone in the room, said Rolf de Vegt, a senior director at Qualcomm, a member of the Wi-Fi Alliance. Other potential uses include onsite advertising, social gaming and team coordination activities.
"Proximity-based discovery based on geolocation and cloud-based matching is used in a number of applications in the market today, but this approach requires continuous Internet connectivity, and cloud support," de Vegt noted. "Although there are other technologies for direct device-to-device, proximity-based discovery already in the marketplace or under development in standards bodies, Wi-Fi is very well suited to take this capability to the mainstream."
'Passpoint' Aims To Add Encryption
We reached out to Rich Karpinski, Principal Analyst at 451 Research, to learn more about Wi-Fi Aware's potential applications.
"The types of apps would include proximity marketing type apps, where a retailer or brand, for instance, can learn a customer's location in the real-world and send along timely (and opted-in) content like coupons or ads," Karpinski told us. "Or more on the content side, consider a sports team sending out stats, videos or concession stand coupons to fans at a game."
As far as privacy is concerned, "opt-in/opt-out will be a requirement, as it is for most apps," Karpinski said. "Security is a different issue. Public Wi-Fi access points tend to be extremely insecure."
He noted that the Wi-Fi Alliance is also working on another initiative called Passpoint that "aims to make access point discovery easier while also adding encryption, which addresses the concerns about security and hacking."
Posted: 2015-07-18 @ 4:47am PT
More spam is coming!
Posted: 2015-07-16 @ 2:12am PT
"Continually scanning for potential services to connect to" opens a big security risk if you blindly trust any intermediaries you connect to; i.e. a WiFi access point. Hackers exploit this by setting up fake WiFi access points a.k.a. WiFi Pirates. Such hacks cannot be detected with standard WiFi management software. Hotspot ID tracks all your WiFi connections and warns you when you connect to an unsafe WiFi Access Point.