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Miracast

Miracast Plans to Offer Streaming Without Router

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There are numerous servers and media players which allow you to stream video and audio content from your mobile devices to your TV. While companies in the streaming media industry are competing to come up with smaller and more sophisticated devices, WiFi Alliance industry group has a different plan altogether. The group is designing a new program called Miracast, which is likely to allow you to stream content from any mobile device to a TV, without the use of a router or a server. Apparently, this program automatically takes care of creating a password-protected, secure network and ensures that the videos are played in the appropriate codec and resolution, without any input or interference from the user.

Vendor-neutral interoperability?

When you are with a single vendor, streaming from your mobile to TV becomes easy. For instance,  you can use Apple’s AirPlay to stream media from your iPhone or iPad to your TV, using Apple TV. Similarly, Google is launching its Nexus Q for streaming from Android devices to televisions, while Nokia and Microsoft are developing an app called ‘Play To’ for streaming from Windows phones to TVs. While these apps are great, they work only if they have a compatible streaming media server, app or media player.

But with Miracast, you should be able to stream content from any phone, irrespective of the vendor, to your television, without the need for an internet connection or a router. The question here is – will vendors co-operate to make interoperability possible? Whether or not they do, Miracast is likely to make it possible, with the help of WiFi Direct.

Miracast and WiFi Direct 

Miracast is largely based on the WiFi Direct technology, which was developed to enable peer-to-peer wireless connectivity, without the need for a router. While this concept did not change home entertainment significantly, it is going to be the basis for Miracast. Devices that are WiFi Direct certified will be able to detect each other just like any two devices would in a WiFi. The only difference here is that there is no access point like a router for them.

Along with wireless connectivity, Miracast will also enable devices to negotiate specifics of video and audio. According to  Kevin Robinson, senior marketing manager at WiFi Alliance, devices from different vendors usually have common codecs and resolutions that they support, and finding a way to negotiate video and audio between them is possible. All that needs to be done is find a way to ensure that streaming between the devices is as smooth as possible.

Launch likely in 2013

The launch date for Miracast depends on when the devices can start the certification process, which is most likely in the third quarter of 2013. While the details of the participants in this program are confidential, it should be noted that chip set manufacturers, including Qualcomm, Texas Instruments and Marvell, are making statements about their plans for Miracast. This holiday season, vendors are hoping to release the marquee Miracast products and by next spring, they hope to offer better.

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