GM announced today that its researchers are currently working to use Wi-Fi Direct technology to detect smartphone-carrying pedestrians and bicyclists. The automaker hopes to use this technology to reduce traffic fatalities by alerting drivers with a visual or aural notification when a pedestrian is nearby. Wi-Fi Direct allows the detection of nearby devices in about one second instead of the seven or eight required by traditional wireless systems, and GM's goal is to integrate this technology into previously existing driver alert systems.
The company is also looking to develop an app for Wi-fi Direct-enabled smartphones that will help to identify individuals as bike messengers, construction workers, or another frequent road users. Other uses for on-board Wi-Fi Direct technology could include the file transfer of music or address information from a home computer — the Wi-Fi Alliance claims that Wi-Fi Direct devices can communicate at a distance of 200 meters (about 656 feet). No word yet on when this technology will make its way to cars, but it may prove a useful tool to prevent collisions in low-visibility situations.