Qualcomm has been working on the next generation of wireless technology for the last seven years. They're calling it LTE Direct and as the name suggests, it's built on top of the LTE protocol and will allow devices to communicate directly without the assistance of a cell tower.
As Technolog Review points out, LTE Direct works at distances greater than 500 yards which means its range extends much further than Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. It also uses very little energy so a device can constantly scan for a signal without being a serious battery drain.
LTE Direct won't be limited to handsets, however, as beacons can also be set up to communicate directly with nearby devices. Qualcomm's Mahesh Makhijani described it as a sixth sense that is always aware of the environment around you. The world around us is full of information, Makhijani added, and the phone can use that to help people in their everyday life.
While it sounds neat in theory, the implementation could turn out much different. Imagine walking into a subway station where your cellular network doesn't get service and suddenly your phone is flooded with alerts. Store A is running a sale, you can save five percent off with a digital coupon at Store B while Store C is staying open an extra two hours during the holiday season.
In other words, it could get very annoying in no time flat.
LTE Direct is likely to hit handsets sometime late next year although it'll probably take a bit longer for retailers and advertisers to set up beacons in high-traffic public places.