Miracast lets you share content without a Wi-Fi signal

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Wirelessly sharing content across multiple devices is nothing new, but streaming technology Miracast will let you share photos, videos, music and more across any certified device, regardless of manufacturer, without a Wi-Fi signal.

The Wi-Fi Alliance on Wednesday launched the Miracast certification program, so that Miracast-equipped devices that have been proven compatible with other devices in the program will be labeled as such. Miracast devices use built in Wi-Fi Direct, which means no wireless router is required.

IHS iSuppli analyst Brian O'Rourke said the certification program will let consumers know which gadgets are compatible with one another.

"All that's really been on the market to date has been technology with Intel's Wi-Di technology, mostly to connect things like notebook PCs to TVs," O'Rourke said. "The Miracast standard will be beyond Intel's Wi-Di, which is a proprietary technology. It creates a commonly understood and supported standard."

Similar certification programs for wireless devices exist, such as the Digital Living Network Association established by Sony in 2008. DLNA functions differently than Miracast in that compatible devices must first connect to a home Wi-Fi network. Apple's AirPlay functions similarly, allowing iDevices to stream to one another using a Wi-Fi signal.

Samsung Galaxy III

The first Miracast-certified products include the Samsung Galaxy S III and the LG Optimus G smartphones. According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, growth of Miracast-certified devices is expected to exceed 1 billion annual shipments within the next four years.

LG Optimus G

Chip-makers such as Broadcom have already signed on with Miracast.  According to O'Rourke, this will encourage OEMs to develop Miracast devices.

"They know from the chip level they'll be able to connect from device to device, and everything will be compatible," O'Rourke said.

The Wi-Fi Alliance selected six devices (including wireless cards and adapters) against which to test Miracast interoperability, so a Samsung smartphone can stream to an LG TV or vice versa. Samsung's Echo-P Series TV was also one of the first Miracast-certified products, though the model is not yet on the market.

Samsung is already using AllShare Cast, a streaming tech based on Miracast, in several of its devices, including the Galaxy S III and Galaxy Note II. The company in a statement said it plans to bring more Miracast-compatible devices to market.

Rumors flew prior to Apple's iPhone 5 launch that the company would introduce AirPlay Direct to allow iPhones, iPads, MacBooks and other devices to wirelessly stream without the presence of a Wi-Fi signal.  That rumor (along with several others) didn't come to fruition.

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