Wi-Fi Aware Lets You Find Things And People Nearby

By Denivee Noble , Jul 14, 2015 10:05 PM EDT

Wi-fi Alliance, the group behind the wi-fi badges on smart devices and computers, has made a new wi-fi feature that allows people to find other people, and even things, that are located near them. Wi-fi Aware lets apps recognise the presence of one another within a vicinity.

From there, short messages will notify the user of the detected app, and then allow interaction between the users. For example, a Wi-fi Aware user has a game in his smartphone. Then while he's playing, Wi-fi Aware detects another device with the same game in the premise. The app gets the two to play against each other. 

The app works between devices, meaning little to no network usage. The feature enables communication between devices, using short messages instead of a full conversation online. Airline apps are supposedly able to use Wi-fi Aware to communicate with passengers, when there is no hotspot.

After an exchange of information between devices has been carried out, the communication can be continued online, if there is an available connection nearby. The peer-to-peer system of the new technology may prove to be a useful service for accessibility, especially within scenarios situated in specific business institutions, like a museum or an airport, for instance.

But the initial concern is, if the app detects and communicates automatically in a public place, will the security of the users not be put at risk? Wi-fi Aware appears to have an answer for that, with the device only connecting with others if the user chooses to.

The app works by having wi-fi radio send messages within a normal wi-fi range, with its normal frequencies. Devices using similar apps and services form clusters, making a 'heartbeat' that sends messages to other similar users, according to Computer World.

Wi-fi Alliance is powered by big names in technology such as Apple, Microsoft and Intel. The group's president, Edgar Figueroa, has highlighted the efficiency of the feature. Without having to use internet hotspots and by sending messages among devices, it saves power and time. 

The wi-fi upgrade has been released on July 14, after three years of research and development.

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