The ESP8266 WiFi Module is a self contained SOC with integrated TCP/IP protocol stack that can give any microcontroller access to your WiFi network. The ESP8266 is capable of either hosting an application or offloading all Wi-Fi networking functions from another application processor. Each ESP8266 module comes pre-programmed with an AT command set firmware, meaning, you can simply hook this up to your Arduino device and get about as much WiFi-ability as a WiFi Shield offers (and that's just out of the box)! The ESP8266 module is an extremely cost effective board with a huge, and ever growing, community.
This module has a powerful enough on-board processing and storage capability that allows it to be integrated with the sensors and other application specific devices through its GPIOs with minimal development up-front and minimal loading during runtime. Its high degree of on-chip integration allows for minimal external circuitry, including the front-end module, is designed to occupy minimal PCB area. The ESP8266 supports APSD for VoIP applications and Bluetooth co-existance interfaces, it contains a self-calibrated RF allowing it to work under all operating conditions, and requires no external RF parts.