Earlier this month I reported that the first Android devices to support the new WiFi Display industry standard would be powered by Qualcomm’s Snapdragon S4, but after meeting with Texas Instruments I now believe their OMAP4 platform will enable this exciting technology ahead of the competition.
Many Android devices already support WiFi Direct, the underlying technology behind WiFi Display that enables peer-to-peer wireless connections. However, in order to fully support WiFi Display, Android devices will need the right hardware resources to address the technology and they will also require a firmware update when the WiFi Display standard is certified by the WiFi Alliance.
Unfortunately that means that not all devices which already support WiFi Direct will also support WiFi Display. Qualcomm for example, will only support WiFi Display in their next-generation Snapdragon S4 processor which will be appearing in devices later this year. All of the current Android devices with Snapdragon S1, S2, and S3 will not support WiFi Display.
Texas Instruments will one-up Qualcomm by supporting WiFi Display in their current-generation OMAP4 family of processors. Devices to feature OMAP4 include most of the recent Motorola phones (Bionic, RAZR, Droid 3, etc.), several LG phones (Thrill 4G, Spectrum), Amazon’s Kindle Fire, Barnes and Noble’s Nook Tablet, and Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus.
First I witnessed screen mirroring, which was demonstrated by HD video streaming from a tablet to a TV. Next I got to wirelessly beam a full 3D game to a TV, while I controlled the on-screen character using the tablet’s built-in gyroscope. Texas Instruments also demoed another cool use case of projecting a mobile device’s display to a large screen and then issuing gesture controls to an application using the device’s front-facing camera.
The industry certification program for WiFi Display commences in the second quarter of 2012, so we should get to see these experiences and more around summer time. We expect the Galaxy Nexus to be the first Android device with WiFi Display, since enabling it will require a firmware upgrade and Google delivers the most timely updates to their devices.
I think a lot of consumers are downplaying WiFi Display, but it’s one of the most exciting mobile technologies that I’m looking forward to in 2012. This is just the tip of the iceberg of a wave of human-centric interactions where we are no longer limited to the physical confines of a mobile device.
As I step back and look at the big picture of mobile, I think I see why Google went with Texas Instruments for their Galaxy Nexus device. Many companies are talking about the future of the post-PC era, but only Texas Instruments has already enabled many of these experiences in Android and they will be first to bring them to market.