For the past few releases of Android, Google has been working on local discovery technologies that enable apps to find nearby users and objects. The American multinational tech-giant has now released a “WifiNanScan App” for developers to experiment with Wi-Fi Aware on Google Play Store.
Wi-Fi Aware – also known as Neighbor Awareness Networking (NAN) – allows Android 8.0+ smartphones to “discover and connect directly to each other without any other type of connectivity between them,” just like an active internet connection. This is possible through the APIs that work to discover nearby devices and create network connections that can “share large amounts of data” as well as send short messages.
According to 9to5Google, the company claims this technology can support “higher throughput rates across longer distances than Bluetooth connections.” Possible use cases touted by the Wi-Fi Alliance are:
- Send any document to a printer securely without logging onto the network.
- Check any restaurant menu and make reservations while walking by without an internet connection, even if the restaurant is closed.
- Automatic check-in and time stamping of school check-ins and roll calls.
- Streamline airport security, customs, and immigration operations using mobile identification (ID) such as a driver’s license or passport without the need for travelers to present physical ID.
Earlier this week, Developed with Google released the WifiNanScan App on Play Store to demonstrate how you can make use of NAN to find the distance between two devices:
With this app, it is possible to obtain 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 enabling the development of peer-to-peer ranging and data transfer, find my phone and context-aware applications based on the WiFi Aware/NAN API.
This also complements the WifiRttScan App which was released two years ago, which enables the Wi-Fi round trip time to be used for indoor positioning as an alternative to GPS.
In the upcoming Android 12, Google has made some improvements to Wi-Fi Aware, which includes fixing lost connections and efficiency improvements.