The Wi-Fi Alliance recently developed seven predictions for 2017 that highlight the expanding role of Wi-Fi as a high-performance technology and an enabler of new innovations.
With more than three billion Wi-Fi device shipments expected in 2017 and more than eight billion devices currently in use around the world, Wi-Fi continues to have a major impact on everything from home networking to Augmented/Virtual Reality (AR/VR) and the Internet of Things (IoT).
1. Simplified wireless networking
There is a shift toward Self-Organising Networks (SONs) and other solutions that help simplify Wi-Fi networking and optimise overall network performance to provide the best user experience. New products will ‘self-organise’, bringing a more seamless user experience, and help to automate the management and optimisation of Wi-Fi networks. More products like Google’s Wi-Fi solution will emerge that balance performance with convenient network setup. New home buyers will soon benefit from professionally designed, pre-installed Wi-Fi networks that will deliver whole-home coverage.
2. High-performance Wi-Fi products with new features and technologies
New Wi-Fi CERTIFIED ac products will enable more devices to operate simultaneously on the same network without sacrificing performance. With WiGig on the verge of a breakout year, new smartphones and laptops incorporating WiGig will be released in 2017, together with new tri-band Access Points (APs) and other products supporting the technology expected to be announced.
3. Wi-Fi Location will gain momentum
New Wi-Fi Location technology that enables accuracy to one metre will become broadly available in Wi-Fi chipsets in 2017. Wi-Fi Location will work in a range of environments, including indoors and urban canyons, and enable a variety of new location-usages without the need for additional, location-specific infrastructure. This improved Wi-Fi capability will bring new opportunities for location-based data and services to retail spaces, entertainment venues, manufacturing facilities, and the healthcare industry.
4. Wi-Fi as a platform for IoT innovation
Wi-Fi is the Internet platform of choice, making it an ideal connectivity platform for the Internet of Things. In 2017, Wi-Fi will introduce standards-based features to bring greater power efficiency to Wi-Fi CERTIFIED devices. According to Wall Street Journal, the killer app for IoT is services rather than “things,” and others agree the most successful IoT products will be accompanied by some related service. Wi-Fi will continue to evolve to provide a building block for IoT services, allowing companies to easily innovate over Wi-Fi and making it easier for companies to ensure there are strong security protections in place even at the service or application level. In 2017, Wi-Fi Alliance will collaborate more closely with other organizations, helping to unlock massive opportunity in the IoT space.
5. Improved AR/VR experience
The Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality (AR/VR) markets are forecast to reach US$120 billion by 2020. In 2016, there were multiple announcements for a variety of headsets and platforms promising to bring more realistic VR experiences to the masses. With Wi-Fi CERTIFIED WiGig now commercially available, device vendors will take advantage of multi-gigabit speeds, low latency and high throughput to provide a more immersive, wireless VR experience without sacrificing wired-grade performance. As WiGig technology adoption in VR devices increases, VR will become a truly viable technology within reach of the average consumer for both gaming and more ‘practical’ scenarios including education. Sports fans will soon benefit from Wi-Fi enabled AR experiences to help better identify players and associate pertinent stats or information through phones or glasses.
6. Wi-Fi a critical component in communications infrastructure
Today’s Wi-Fi technologies provide foundational elements for addressing many emerging 5G use cases to help meet increasing speed, bandwidth, capacity and latency demands. Forthcoming Wi-Fi technologies will be even more critical to enable 5G scenarios, which require high capacity and/or very low latency.
7. Cities and stadiums get major Wi-Fi upgrades
In 2017, we will see expanded rollouts of LinkNYC to new areas, as well as new initiatives to bring high-speed Wi-Fi to schools and municipalities. More municipal Wi-Fi initiatives will feature Wi-Fi CERTIFIED Passpoint, and roaming agreements will bring seamless, secure Wi-Fi access to hundreds of hotspots and home-spots. Wi-Fi will enable innovation such as waste and recycling solutions and solar-powered benches that will help further develop Smart Cities by transforming regular fixtures with data. Professional sports teams will enhance their fans’ experiences, with increasing partnerships with networking providers to bring the most advanced Wi-Fi CERTIFIED ac Wave 2 features to stadiums and provide the highest quality Wi-Fi experience to fans.