Wi-Fi Aware: your router knows you're near

The Wi-Fi Alliance reveals their next Wi-Fi CERTIFIED service – Wi-Fi Aware. This certification program from the Wi-Fi Alliance is for a technology that works with your smartphone's built-in Wi-Fi sensing capabilities, allowing Wi-Fi Aware devices to discover one-another before they even make a Wi-Fi connection. In one sense this technology is similar to Bluetooth Beacons, sending your smartphone information when you get close enough to them to speak with them wirelessly. While Bluetooth beacons have been in testing for several years, Wi-fi Aware is brand new.

The war for proximity-based awareness technology has begun, and it's not just manufacturers that are pulling out the big guns. "Wi-Fi Aware exemplifies the continued innovation in our industry and our commitment to a terrific Wi-Fi user experience" – so says said Edgar Figueroa, president and CEO of the Wi-Fi Alliance.

"Wi-Fi Aware makes that user experience even richer by delivering immediate, dynamic awareness of the user's environment."

According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, this technology does not work the same way Wi-Fi seeking normally does. That bit can take up some big battery life.

Instead, Wi-Fi Aware doesn't work with cellular, Wi-Fi, or GPS connectivity. Instead, Wi-Fi aware works with a "unique process of discovery and synchronization." The process establishes a "common heartbeat" which the Wi-Fi Alliance suggests is a "very power efficient operation."

Once a connection is made and the user shows interest in the operation – with a button tap, for example – further connectivity can be made. That further connectivity is made with a more classic version of Wi-Fi.

Several products have been added to the Wi-Fi Certified Wi-Fi Aware product collection right out the gate:

• Broadcom BCM4358

• Intel® Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260

• Marvell Avastar 88W8897 802.11ac low power Wi-Fi combo chip

• Realtek RTL8812AE 2x2 a/b/g/n/ac MiniCard

Several companies have showed interest in the Wi-Fi Aware program – those listed above as well as smartphone processor makers Qualcomm – through Qualcomm Atheros – have joined the team.

"Qualcomm Atheros has been a strong supporter of the Wi-Fi Aware program," said Gajinder Singh Vij, Director of Product Management, Qualcomm Atheros, Inc., "and is pleased to see it reach this important milestone towards enabling proximal awareness."

VIA: Wi-Fi Alliance

Don't be surprised if you see some of this Tom Cruise action going on sooner than later: