New certification: Wi-Fi Aware™

The Wi-Fi Alliance is starting a new certification programme around the concept of "proximity-based discovery" halfway through 2015. This means that Wi-Fi Aware™ will allow applications on your Wi-Fi-enabled devices to make contact with others when they are in your immediate vicinity. These devices will not have to be connected to a Wi-Fi network, which opens the door to an infinite number of peer-to-peer applications.

Wi-Fi Aware™ has 4 essential functions to make this possible:

  • Achieve a shared "heartbeat": this will ensure that all devices will be "awake" at the same time to discover each other and to save on battery use.
  • A protocol that defines how applications on devices can discover similar applications on other devices when they come near through publish and subscribe messages.
  • A method for app developers to have their application identify itself to others in a unique manner.
  • Making follow-up activities possible after a successful discovery has taken place.

The core of Wi-Fi Aware™ is definitely in the determination of the shared heartbeat for the discovery of nearby devices without exhausting the device’s battery. This synchronisation between devices in each other’s proximity of different owners, of different brands, that use different networks etc. is the most important innovation.

The clearest way to draft the possibilities is by using examples: 

  • You could, for example, easily search for a human opponent for your favourite game while you are on a bus or train. When the sign with the train timetable detects your device, you may be sent an update about current arrivals and departures.
  • You may be sent a description and additional information when visiting a museum and looking at a work of art.
  • If you are walking around a shopping centre, you may receive promotions from your favourite shop in the area.