A new Wi-Fi-based peer-to-peer transmission standard called Wi-Fi Direct should be roaring into the market in 2011, as the Wi-Fi Alliance began certifying products late last year. Such a development could have a significant impact on both enterprise and public-safety users.

The Wi-Fi Direct standard enables Wi-Fi devices such as smartphones and tablet computers to communicate directly with each other sans a communications network or the requirement that the devices must first connect to an access point.

The standard takes advantage of portable content, such as photos and video, and directly connects devices for applications such as content sharing, synching, printing and gaming. Wi-Fi Direct–certified devices can connect with older Wi-Fi-certified devices and will include a push-button set-up mechanism and the latest WPA2 security protections. Older Wi-Fi products may be able to take advantage of the feature via a software upgrade. That means workers or first responders in the field could share images and other pertinent information without the presence of a Wi-Fi network.

“We’ve been a couple months into our certification, and we’re already seeing a lot of activity there,” said Greg Ennis, technical director with the Wi-Fi Alliance. “Major chipset vendors have all certified chipsets for Wi-Fi Direct, and things are opening up for device makers and application developers.”

During the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this month, smartphone maker LG showed off Wi-Fi Direct in multiple devices. Using the LG Optimus Black, LG demonstrated the device’s ability to share videos and applications with other Wi-Fi-enabled smartphones, as well as the transmission of video onto TV and PC screens throughout the LG booth. The Wi-Fi Alliance itself demonstrated multi-user gaming applications and streaming video applications.

Research firm In-Stat believes Wi-Fi Direct could eliminate the need for Bluetooth 3.0, which was designed to move Bluetooth to higher-speed applications by using classic Bluetooth to connect to devices and then Wi-Fi to deliver the content at speeds up to 24 Mbps.

“Standard Wi-Fi is increasingly common in many Bluetooth target markets,” said In-Stat principal analyst Brian O’Rourke in a statement. “Until recently, lack of peer-to-peer connectivity was Wi-Fi’s most significant weakness in those markets. Wi-Fi Direct addresses that weakness and, because there is significant application overlap in PCs and mobile phones, it is a very real threat to the long term viability of Bluetooth 3.0.”

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