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How Peer-to-Peer Networking and Wi-Fi Direct Will Help Drive the Wearable “Internet of Things” | Cypress Semiconductor

How Peer-to-Peer Networking and Wi-Fi Direct Will Help Drive the Wearable “Internet of Things”

There’s a lot of excitement about the types of devices that will be connected to the Internet in the future. There’s talk today of connecting just about everything, from the appliances in your home — think thermostats, security systems and washing machines — to devices that are worn on your body, such as eyeglasses, wrist watches or even clothing.

But as we begin to imagine all of the things that we’ll be able to do with these new connected devices, we also need to take a step back and think about how these devices will actually connect to the Internet – and each other.

“Connectivity” is at the heart of everything we do here at Broadcom and we recognize that today’s technologies will need to be stronger and more robust to handle the increase of digital transactions that will come when the number of connected devices skyrockets.

What Is Wi-Fi Direct?

Most people today know about Wi-Fi as a way of connecting to the Internet and Bluetooth as a way of connecting devices to each other. But as more devices start to join the connectivity ecosystem, from TV set-top boxes to in-car infotainment systems to wearable medical devices, the more there will be a need for a robust, secure, and simple to use technology to maintain those unique connections.

One such technology is Wi-Fi Direct, which offers a fast, secure, easy-to-set-up peer-to-peer communications channel between a wide variety of Wi-Fi devices. Wi-Fi Direct doesn’t require the use of a router or network access point to connect devices.   With Wi-Fi Direct, devices discover, connect, and communicate directly with each other, making the process much simpler than logging onto traditional Wi-Fi networks. In many cases, users need only launch an app or use Near Field Communication tap activation the first time the devices detect each other. Behind the scenes, Wi-Fi Direct devices negotiate with each other in order to “get talking.” 

According to a 2010 Global Wi-Fi Survey conducted by the Wi-Fi Alliance and Wakefield Research, global consumers most want to use Wi-Fi Direct for instant messaging, sharing pictures with friends and family, displaying pictures from a portable device to a TV screen, video chatting, and playing games with others. Likewise, new trends around “wearables,” connected devices that can be worn on the body, are adding to the demands.

Read a White Paper About Wi-Fi Direct

Why Wi-Fi Direct?

Most wearable technology today uses Bluetooth Smart with chips such as Broadcom’s BCM20732 to connect, an ideal technology for things like sharing biometric data collected by a fitness tracker. That sort of communication doesn’t require high data-transfer rates — but tomorrow’s wearable devices just might.

The next step in the evolution of wearable technology and the Internet of Things will enable more robust features and capabilities that require transferring much larger amounts of data over longer distances than Bluetooth Smart is designed for. The more data and distance required, the more useful Wi-Fi Direct becomes. Like traditional Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct can hit speeds as high as 250 Mbps over distances up to 200 meters.

Next-gen wearable devices could incorporate a wide variety of biometric and location information along with large images and high-quality streaming multimedia, audio and video conferencing, texts, gaming information and more. Wearable applications could leverage Wi-Fi Direct to track and share an entire exercise history with a personal trainer, for example, or clue-in a doctor to a week’s worth of a patient’s heart arrhythmia readings.


Click to expand infographic: Learn more about Wearable connected devices with technologies powered by Broadcom.

Wi-Fi Direct Goes Beyond Wearables

Of course, wearable technology is not the only application for Wi-Fi Direct. It also enables “nomadic behavior,” where a user walks into a new environment with a device in tow and instantly connects with other networked gadgets to access or perform a service.

For example, a smartphone might connect with electronic shelf labeling or displays in a retail store to provide more information about the products on the shelves. In business and professional contexts, Wi-Fi Direct would enable workers to instantly and easily monitor, create, or update content from a variety of devices. Wi-Fi Direct could also enable other Internet of Things applications for home automation, such as connecting a series of smart sprinklers or smoke detectors for easy monitoring and programming.

Broadcom, as a leader in Wi-Fi connectivity — with chips in more mobile and consumer devices than anyone else – continues to establish a framework that uses this open channel so that product manufacturers can offer to run consumer apps on their products.

We’re already seeing some of those results today, such as with Tap & Share features and direct play for video and audio pairing. Still, Broadcom continues to push the boundaries of how Wi-Fi Direct can impact the wearables market. The company will keep improving the Wi-Fi Direct toolbox so that product manufacturers and device makers can continue to offer consumers the latest and greatest services and features that make their lives better.

 

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