The most recent update to Android Jelly Bean (4.2) contains support for a new and currently still little known streaming technology called Miracast, but just what is it and how does it work? Essentially Miracast is an update to the WiFi standard that allows you to stream the display of your device, in real time, to a compatible screen.
Similar technologies exist using DLNA, however the downside to these is that companies implementing them generally utilise proprietary software / hardware in addition to your device if it is not made by that company. An example is Samsung with AllShare. For instance I have AllShare on my Samsung Galaxy S3 but unless I have a Samsung TV also with AllShare, I need to buy the AllShare adaptor to get it working and have the AllShare software on my laptop to share from there as well.
Miracast allows devices from all manufacturers to work together without specific applications and accessories. Also, even though it is part of the WiFi standard, Miracast does not require a normal WiFi network and WiFi router to operate. Certified devices use WiFi direct to make an ad-hoc network and talk directly to each other. Compatible Miracast devices are scarce right now although the new Nexus devices (Nexus 4 and Nexus 10) from Google are included and there are a list of devices becoming available in the near future (such as Samsung’s upcoming Echo-P TV range) available by searching at the WiFi Alliance website.
Eventually WiFi direct and Miracast and will be supported internally on pretty much all new smartphones, tablets, laptops, TVs and other devices with a display. LG, Sony and others are also developing dongles to plug into older (read current) TVs that do not have support. So if you are a heavy multimedia consumer and the idea of sharing content easily is appealing, look out for the WiFi direct and Miracast certified badges on upcoming technology!