The Wi-Fi Alliance, a non-profit consortium of stakeholders, recently announced a new certification program for Wi-Fi Aware. Wi-Fi Aware is somewhat similar to the beacon technology offered by Bluetooth: a way to offer “neighbor awareness” between devices and share contextual information without using a lot of energy. An advantage of Wi-Fi Aware, according to Wi-Fi Alliance CEO Edgar Figueroa, is that Wi-Fi is already deployed in many public places, unlike Bluetooth beacons.
Wi-Fi Aware also prefigures the “Internet of Things,” which will almost certainly burden current Wi-Fi networks with an avalanche of information regarding what things are, where they are, when they need to be turned on or off, and which people around them are certified to interface with them. How Wi-Fi Aware incorporates all this disparate information and parses it for users without transmitting its own avalanche of notifications, while keeping energy requirements low, has not been fully worked out yet: certifications and actual devices are not scheduled until the end of this year or early 2016, giving Bluetooth beacons the crucial first-mover advantage.