Does Wireless Really Reduce Clutter?

With iOS5, Apple introduced AirPlay mirroring, a feature that would allow the iPad 2 to wirelessly stream its screen contents to a large screen. While the iPad already allowed a teacher/presenter to create and show a presentation from the iPad via a VGA or HDMI adapter, AirPlay suddenly untethered the teacher from the front of the classroom. Unfortunately, AirPlay is a proprietary protocol that Apple only licenses to third party companies for audio devices.

Apple isn't the only company that wanted to keep a wireless display technology all to itself. In January 2010, Intel introduced its own proprietary wireless display protocol called WiDi. Not only does Intel keep this protocol to themselves, they restrict it even further by only allowing it with a few specific combinations of Intel hardware and software (all laptop oriented). The only advantage that WiDi seems to have is that Intel is planning on also enabling Miracast support for newer devices (2nd or 3rd generation Intel Core systems) with WiDi.

What's Miracast? Miracast is a wireless mirroring protocol, formerly known as WiFi Direct Display, that was developed by the WiFi Alliance, and announced January 2011 (note that Apple is a sponsoring member of the WiFi Alliance, and announced AirPlay mirroring in June 2011). The certification process for Miracast was announced at the end of May 2012, and certified devices should be available by the end of the year. Miracast is important because Google introduced support for WiFi Direct (the protocol that drives Miracast) in Android 4, and Texas Instruments will have Miracast certification for its chips which support both Android and the upcoming Windows RT (Windows for ultraportable and tablet devices running on ARM processors).

But wait! There's more!

Last week, AMD held their Fusion Developer Summit (AFDS). There were a number of announcements made at the Summit, but one in particular I found quite unusual, and frustrating. AMD Wireless Display. AMD's approach is to enable wireless display without the artificial Intel WiDi restrictions. Apparently AMD is planning on working with the WiFi Alliance on this protocol (AMD is also a regular member of the Alliance). I'm not sure why AMD doesn't just support Miracast.

Wireless screen mirroring is an incredible feature that many educators are excited about. Unfortunately, it also has the potential of being the source of much frustration.

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