In recent Android releases, Google has been working on local discovery technologies that apps can take advantage of to find nearby objects and users. The latest contribution is the Google Play release of a “WifiNanScan app” for developers to experiment with Wi-Fi Aware.
Wi-Fi Aware – also known as Neighbor Awareness Networking (NAN) – allows Android 8.0+ devices to “detect and connect directly without any other connection between them,” as an active Internet connection. The APIs work to detect nearby devices and establish network connections that can “share large amounts of data”
Google says this technology supports “higher throughput over longer distances than Bluetooth connections.” Possible utility issues spied on by the Wi-Fi Alliance include:
- Send a document securely to a printer without first logging on to the network
- View a restaurant menu and order as you pass without an internet connection, even when the restaurant is closed
- Automate and timestamp school checks and call calls
- Streamline flow security, customs and immigration processing flows using mobile identification (ID), such as a driver’s license or passport, without requiring travelers to provide a physical ID
Earlier this week, Developed with Google released the WifiNanScan (Play Store) app to demonstrate how you can use NAN to get the distance between two devices:
With this app it is possible to get a distance measurement with a precision of about 1 meter with phones up to 15 meters apart. Developers, OEMs and researchers can use this tool to validate distance / range measurements that enable peer-to-peer range development and data transfer, find my phone and context-aware applications based on the WiFi Aware / NAN API.
It compliments the WifiRttScan app that was released two years ago for using Wi-Fi roaming time for indoor positioning as an alternative to GPS.
In Android 12, Google made improvements to Wi-Fi Aware, including efficiency improvements and addressing lost connections.
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