It is CES (Consumer Electronics Show) week and everyone is emerged in future gadgets and the hottest technology items. The media does a fantastic job of covering every possible angle of CES, so I won’t go into what’s happening at the show this year. However, I thought it would be interesting to talk about what might be in CES two years from now that could impact our industry. I have been recently coming across services and solutions that are based on infrastructure-free networks and been looking for underlying technologies that are used. Such networks have been called ad-hoc, Mesh, or peer to peer networks. Out of all these names, “proximity networks” makes the most sense for me especially if you are focusing on proximity type services. The underlying methodology for such networks is to require no registration and little setup as it is really created by users. Different technologies such as new WiFi Direct or even latest Bluetooth standard provide some basis for Proximity Networks. Unfortunately these technologies are designed and optimized for certain use cases. What has whet my appetite is a technology proposed by Qualcomm called LTE Direct. The technology is coming out of Qualcomm R&D and originally was called Flashlinq.

What sets LTE Direct technology apart from the rest is the range, scale and power requirement. At its core it is based on LTE type physical layer which makes it extremely power efficient. It can connect more than 5000 devices in a 1 km range. If that does not excite you about possible services and applications then the proposed discovery mode within LTE Direct should. Every few seconds a small data package of 128 bits called expressions are synchronously communicated to all devices in proximity. Basically you are advertising your presence and desire and others are listening. Based on the application and filters designed, discovery can be done on a non-intrusive way. Any match during discovery can establish a private connection or other methods of communication with broadcaster of the expression. This makes discovery extremely fast and local.

I saw a demo of the technology at CTIA last year and it is impressive. Below are two videos from Qualcomm that shows the possibilities with LTE Direct.

I liked the targeted ad in one of the demo apps from “Toes R US” with the picture of someone toes! I guess Qualcomm should keep focus on technology and let us come up with ads and applications. The video helps your creative side start imagining all sorts of applications.

Of course for LTE Direct technology to get to mass market, it needs to be adopted on the device side and integrated into handsets. No one does that better than Qualcomm. LTE direct has been submitted by Qualcomm to be 3GPP standard and is making its way from study item to work item, which means if everything goes well it would become part of 3GPP LTE release. As part of the standard, the technology will reach the mass market and all of us can reap the benefit of using it in our applications and services.

I wish it was here now, but all good things come to those who wait.