What is WiFi Direct, and how does it work?

WiFi Direct allows two devices to establish a direct, peer-to-peer (P2P) WiFi connection without the need for a wireless router. WiFi Direct is similar to Bluetooth, but there are fundamental differences.

WiFi Direct is an official standard offered through the WiFi Alliance. The World Industry Union is responsible for certifying the WiFi Kit; This means that you can be sure that any gadget with direct WiFi can work with all devices equipped with this feature without special hardware.

The idea of WiFi Direct is that simple tasks require simple connections. Suppose you want to send and print an image from a laptop or smartphone to a wireless printer, or share pictures with someone you are in the same room with, or even send your desired video from a mobile phone to a TV. None of this requires an active Internet connection. But to do that, your device needs to be connected to a printer or someone else’s hardware or TV. With the help of WiFi Direct, all these things are easily possible.

Devices can receive information through an access point. WiFi Direct enables devices to go through this process and connect directly to each other. When they think of connecting a device to a device (D2D), most people think the first thing that comes to mind is Bluetooth. WiFi Direct offers a Bluetooth-like connection in which you first need to introduce devices that have WiFi Direct to make a connection. Still, WiFi Direct is much more potent than Bluetooth and can manage and send more data at higher speeds and over longer distances. If WiFi Direct is set correctly, it can transfer data 10 times faster than Bluetooth on Android devices. These advantages make WiFi Direct a better option for business applications that need to share data between devices.

Devices are paired in a variety of ways to use WiFi Direct. These include physical buttons (pressing a button on the first gadget and pressing the same button on the second gadget), PIN code, QR code, or even NFC. WiFi Direct does not require a centralized network or wireless router to share information between devices. Instead, when connecting, one device acts as an access point (AP) or hotspot, and other devices connect to the primary device using WPS and WPA / WPA2 protocols. WiFi Direct uses WPS and WPA / WPA2 protocols to establish a secure connection, prevent unauthorized communications, and keep the connection private. Once connected, even if not connected to the Internet, data can be shared immediately between surrounding devices.

Because devices with direct WiFi can be connected without the need for an access point, there is no need to use a router. Devices involved in direct WiFi connectivity, if necessary, create their own Ad-Hoc network, allowing you to view the available devices and choose which one to connect to.

To get better acquainted with this subject, consider this example: Suppose you have to send a file to your friend, but you do not have access to a secure WiFi connection. In this case, you can create an AdHoc network instead of connecting to the Internet. You can wirelessly create an ad hoc network 100 meters between your device and your friend and send the file to him. Because your device is a host, the connection is terminated if you disconnect, no matter how many devices are connected to the AdHoc network at the same time. According to this example, it can be said that an AdHoc network is a type of temporary local area network (LAN); so if you set up an AdHoc network permanently, it becomes a local network. With the help of an AdHoc network, multiple devices can access the Internet of the host device.

WiFi Direct potentially includes two useful options: Finding Devices (WiFi Direct Discovery Device) and Finding Services (Service Discovery). Devices do not know by default what devices are around them, but if the developers have enabled this, your device knows what devices are nearby and what each one does. For example, if you want to display an image or movie, you will only see devices that can display images, or if you’re going to print an image, you will only see printers or devices connected to printers. Discovering the devices that work for you can happen before a connection is made not to waste time connecting to the wrong device.

Companies and support for WiFi Direct

The first major company to support WiFi Direct was Intel, which introduced a new standard for the Centrino 2 platform in 2008. Two years later, other big players in the networking industry followed Intel; Marvel, Ralink, Broadcom, RailTech, and Atros launched the first Direct WiFi products in 2010. Your computer’s WiFi card is probably made by one of these big manufacturers, and most likely your modern PC or laptop supports WiFi Direct. Microsoft has supported this standard since Windows 8, and all versions of Windows 10 are equipped with Direct WiFi. The first Xbox to support WiFi Direct was the Xbox One, released in 2013.

In the world of mobile phones, Google introduced WiFi direct support in Android 2.3. Apple iPhones have supported WiFi since iOS 7 with various titles such as AirDrop or AirPlay. There are many other devices, such as headphones and wireless printers, that support this feature. Most smart TVs use Direct WiFi in a different way with the help of a feature called Miracast, which is a wireless standard based on Direct WiFi.

How to make direct WiFi connections is different in different devices. As mentioned, some devices scan the QR code to start the connection. In some cases, you need to enter a PIN code and, in some devices, you have to press a physical button. As security issues become more important, more and more devices are incorporating these techniques, and a small number of devices are automatically connected.

Uses of WiFi Direct

The most common uses of WiFi Direct include the following options:

  • Quick file sharing

WiFi Direct is a great way to share large files quickly. This feature is fast, cost-effective, and secure when it is not possible to set up a wired connection or internet access.

  • Printing with wireless printers

WiFi Direct can control a large amount of wireless information, so using it for fast and hassle-free printing is a good option.

  • Playing and sharing the screen

From running mobile games on a large screen to sharing photos on TV, WiFi Direct can be used for various screen-sharing activities.

  • Group gaming

If everyone has the same game on their phones without WiFi, they can play with each other by connecting to WiFi Direct.

  • Fast syncing

Some devices use WiFi Direct to sync information and update media. This feature can make the process much faster, especially if you have to add a lot of new media (such as updating an old playlist) to your device at the same time.

WiFi Direct Security

WiFi Direct has minimal security benefits compared to other communication options, but instead, the security risks are less. Using WiFi Direct can be dangerous when using a device connected to another network at the same time. There is a risk if you use a direct connection to the device while connected to another network. If you use older protocols such as WPS, it will be easier for hackers to break into your information. You should always make sure that your direct connection is secure. Anyone can take advantage of your information by receiving it via WiFi Direct.

To stay safe when using WiFi Direct, it’s a good idea to learn how to secure your device. There are two types of WiFi Direct connection: temporary connection and permanent connection. A permanent connection allows you to save information on your device so that the connection can be made automatically. This type of connection is easier and faster, but it is dangerous in terms of security. Since you cannot contact unknown devices, it is best to restrict permanent connection. Unlike permanent connections, temporary connections do not happen automatically and are more secure. You can use temporary pins to make sure the connection is secure.

It is recommended to use newer direct WiFi connections that have more security features, but it is better to never use them in public places. A new bug in Linux devices recently allowed hackers to access mobile devices via WiFi Direct if WiFi were enabled.


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