The Future of Wi-Fi

It's dangerous to predict the future. I'll take that chance and risk being wrong! Here's what I think is a cheap prediction.

Within 10 years, all new appliances, home electronics, and gadgets will be equipped in the factory with wireless networking, probably of a sort that meets whatever the Wi-Fi standards of the day are. This will mean that this equipment?and more, practically anything you can thing of?will be able to

  • Exchange information with other devices. For example, your burglar alarm can "talk" to your smoke detector and your stove.

  • Receive commands from across a network.

The benefits of these two abilities are greater than you might think. They include

  • Greater automation because all kinds of machines will be better able to work with one another.

  • More effective use of data because it can be shared between numerous devices.

  • Better personal control of your environment using the power of your computer. You will be able to exercise this control at home using internal networks, and remotely via an Internet connection. For example, you might use Wi-Fi and an Internet connection to set the temperature in your house from your office before you come home.

As you'll see in this chapter, some of this stuff you can do right now. For example, it's easy to add a Wi-Fi receiver to your home entertainment center so that you can use your Internet connection and Wi-Fi network to stream audio and video to your amplifier and/or television.

The software and hardware that enables you to use Wi-Fi in some of these ways has yet to be manufactured. But there's a plethora of new Wi-Fi applications coming down the pike! It's clear today what some of these applications are. Others will probably be a surprise. But surprise is what to expect from Wi-Fi as a disruptive technology that has achieved many things that were never expected.

By learning now about Wi-Fi, what it is, and what it can do, you'll be ahead of the curve when new Wi-Fi applications appear.

In this chapter, I'll show you what you can do easily today. I'll also show you some things that are in the works (and which you could put together if you were a devoted hobbyist). You'll undoubtedly see commercial versions of these Wi-Fi applications in the next few years. Finally, from time to time I'll mention Wi-Fi applications that aren't really being tried yet.