LG to show off Wi-Fi Direct on upcoming smartphone

The Optimus Black will be able to use Wi-Fi without an access point

Wi-Fi Direct, a wireless LAN mode that doesn't require a hotspot, is starting to emerge in handsets and will be demonstrated on an LG Electronics smartphone this week at the International Consumer Electronics Show.

The Wi-Fi Alliance introduced Wi-Fi Direct late last year. Starting on Thursday, LG Electronics will demonstrate the technology on a mobile device. In its CES booth, LG plans to show Wi-Fi Direct in action on the LG Optimus Black, an Android 2.2 smartphone with a 4-inch display, which was announced on Wednesday and is expected to go on sale in the first half of this year.

The Optimus Black isn't the first phone to be certified with Wi-Fi Direct. Samsung claimed that distinction with the Galaxy S GT-I9000 as early as Nov. 1, just after the Wi-Fi Alliance began certifying products under the new standard. That smartphone is already on sale. But more vendors are expected to incorporate the new standard in their products, some of which may be announced at CES, which continues through Sunday.

Wi-Fi Direct allows two devices to communicate via Wi-Fi without going through a central access point. That means users don't have to wait until they are in an area already covered by a network, or set up a network with a portable device such as a Mi-Fi hub, before they can exchange data among client devices. It can also make it easier to quickly link systems in a home. Only one of the devices needs to be equipped with Wi-Fi Direct for the connection to work. Wi-Fi Direct works at speeds up to 250M bps (bits per second) over a range as far as about 200 meters, according to the Wi-Fi Alliance.

In its demonstrations, LG plans to send multimedia content from an Optimus Black handset on to TV and PC screens in its booth. That can be done by just flicking a finger on the handset's touchscreen, said LG spokesman Ken Hong. A video playing on the phone can be instantly transferred to the TV, he said. The demonstrations will also incorporate DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance), a standard for connectivity among consumer electronics devices.

LG already has four Blu-ray Disc players and two Blu-ray Disc home theater systems certified for Wi-Fi Direct, according to the Wi-Fi Alliance's website. It has more consumer electronics products than any other vendor on the list, which is still dominated by chips and components.

A growing number of Wi-Fi products will incorporate Wi-Fi Direct, in part because it can eliminate the need for one extra chip in some products, said Farpoint Group analyst Craig Mathias. For example, it can take the place of Bluetooth for many purposes, such as linking peripherals to PCs, Mathias said. "You'll definitely see Wi-Fi Direct taking a bite out of that," he said.

The technology may also be useful for applications such as streaming audio to speakers and setting up control and monitoring networks in temporary settings, Mathias said. Consumers may also use it for video in some cases, depending on the distance between devices and the quality that's required, he said.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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Tags CEStelecommunicationNetworkingLG ElectronicswirelessConsumer Electronics Show (CES)mobileWLANs / Wi-Fi

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