Wireless networks have offered a tremendous advantage in the professional world by allowing businesses the freedom to roam beyond their cable length limitations. While wireless connections give access to the network from almost any location, Wi-Fi Direct allows devices to share information in real-time. To reap the full benefits of Wi-Fi Direct, business owners need to understand what it is, how it works, and how best to apply it to business processes.

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What Is Wi-Fi Direct?

Standard Wi-Fi connections allow devices to receive information through an access point. Through Wi-Fi Direct, devices have the ability to bypass this process and connect to each other directly. When most people think of device-to-device connections, Bluetooth comes to mind. Although Wi-Fi Direct offers a similar connection, it’s also significantly more powerful than Bluetooth, able to handle a higher data volume at a faster rate. In the right setting, Wi-Fi Direct can transfer data at a rate 10 times faster than traditional Bluetooth. This makes Wi-Fi Direct the superior choice for business applications that require data sharing between devices.

How Does Wi-Fi Direct Work?

Wi-Fi Direct doesn’t require a centralized network to share information between devices. Instead, when a connection is made, one device acts as the access point. Other devices then connect to this original device using WPS and WPA/WPA2 protocols. Once this connection is established, data can be instantly shared between devices, even when there’s no network connection available. 

Connections through Wi-Fi Direct can vary depending on the application. Gamers can connect to share an experience on their personal devices, or an individual can cast their device onto a television, allowing anyone in the room to see a real-time projection of what’s visible on the device screen. Some devices can connect automatically, while others require pushing a button on the device. For security purposes, many connections require the input of a PIN or require you to scan a QR code. Even with these extra steps, this kind of connectivity offers a variety of advantages in a business setting.

Benefits of Using Wi-Fi Direct

Without Wi-Fi Direct, devices would need to share information through an access point such as a router or over the internet. Sharing sensitive data over the internet comes with security risks, as anything stored or delivered online can be intercepted by cybercriminals. Accessing a local intranet can diminish some of this risk, but it also limits information sharing to areas where a connection can be established to the internal network. Wi-Fi Direct offers instant connectivity in any setting as long as the devices are within range of each other. This provides significant mobility in business applications.

The power of Wi-Fi Direct also increases its usability. With higher data and speed capabilities, team members can easily share high-resolution video, photos and large data files. This is an excellent collaborative tool when working with significant information because adjustments can be made in real-time, updating on any connected device instantly.

What Devices Are Wi-Fi Direct Enabled?

Device compatibility is rarely an issue today thanks to Wi-Fi Direct technology being available over the last decade. Both Android and Apple devices support direct connections, though Apple offers it under the names AirPlay and AirDrop. Smart televisions often allow casting from Wi-Fi Direct devices, and many streaming devices, such as Roku and Chromecast, are compatible as well. Businesses can also obtain compatible devices for the company floor, such as headsets, keyboards and printers. This can be especially helpful if there is a network connectivity issue, allowing some daily activities to continue through Wi-Fi Direct until the internet connection is restored.

Most Wi-Fi Direct enabled devices can be connected, but some manufacturers will simplify the process and add perks for connections between devices from their brand. For example, Samsung devices that offer Wi-Fi Direct can be used to cast onto any enabled television and share information with any enabled device. However, connections between Samsung devices may require fewer steps and offer additional settings to enhance the experience for the user. Apple devices take this a step further and are designed to only allow connection with other Apple devices. There are ways to work around this, but they can be cumbersome and negate the convenience of Wi-Fi Direct. For this reason, businesses should take care when purchasing company devices to ensure they’ll easily connect when needed.

Common Business Applications

Some Wi-Fi Direct applications that can help your business thrive:

  • As mentioned earlier, setting up printer access through Wi-Fi Direct can ensure that off-line printing jobs can continue even when the network is down. 
  • Wi-Fi Direct can also be used during company meetings, allowing anyone taking the lead to cast their device onto the conference room television or send meeting files to everyone in attendance. 
  • Syncing company devices is also significantly faster through Wi-Fi Direct than using Bluetooth, allowing easy sharing of new company software or updating information stored within the device.
  • Near-field communication can also work through Wi-Fi Direct connections.
  • Offer entertainment options as perks to employees and customers.

Potential Drawbacks

With all the advantages offered by Wi-Fi Direct, it’s important to also consider some of the technology’s limitations. Considering the usability of Wi-Fi Direct depends on connectivity without the use of a Wi-Fi network, the Internet of Things (IoT) expansion requires a connection complexity that Wi-Fi Direct can’t keep up with. This means some interconnected devices will already require a standard Wi-Fi connection for daily operations, rendering Wi-Fi Direct all but obsolete. Security can also be an issue when choosing automatic connections or when a connected device is also connected to a network. Hackers can exploit weaknesses in Wi-Fi Direct devices that don’t require security steps for connections or can use a network connection to gain access to other devices connected through Wi-Fi Direct. For this reason, it’s important to avoid using this technology in a public space and to rely on temporary rather than automatic connections. Using newer Wi-Fi Direct technology can also help mitigate some of this risk by requiring more advanced steps to connect.