Amazon has released further details about Amazon Sidewalk, its new crowd-sourced wireless network designed for smart devices outside of the home.
Described by the company as a “neighbourhood network designed to make your devices work better”, Amazon Sidewalk was first unveiled last September.
It is designed to support smart devices that rely on Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections but are located outside of the home, such as sensors and smart lights, which may be outside of the range of home WiFi or may only be able to receive a poor connection.
Amazon Sidewalk therefore works to “greatly extend the working range of low-bandwidth, low-power, smart lights, sensors, and other low-cost devices customers install at the edge of their home network”.
According to the company, Amazon Sidewalk uses Bluetooth Low Energy, the 900 MHz spectrum, and other frequencies to simplify new device setup, extend the low-bandwidth range of devices, and help devices stay online and up-to-date even if the home WiFi goes down.
This would essentially turn smart devices outside the home into network bridges, extending a customer’s home WiFi, functioning in a similar way to a mesh network.
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Amazon Sidewalk partners with Tile
Later this year, some Echo devices will be able to connect to Amazon Sidewalk, with Tile, a company that offers Bluetooth enabled devices designed to be attached to keys, bags or wallets so they can be located if lost, becoming the first third-party Sidewalk-enabled device.
The company also plans to add Ring cameras to the Sidewalk network.
Another key aspect of Amazon Sidewalk is the “neighbour-created network”. This gives customers the option to pool their bandwidth with neighbours, creating a network that covers multiple households.
Amazon said this could “extend connectivity all the way to your mailbox out at the street where a smart sensor lets you know exactly when your mail has been delivered, or to a water sensor that lets you know it’s time to water the garden in the backyard.”
Addressing the issue of privacy, Amazon said that owners of different devices cannot view data sent from other devices in the network, with the network using three layers of encryption to keep data secure.