Amazon Sidewalk Initiative Allows Smart Devices To Thrive Just Beyond Wi-Fi Range Limits

Amazon Sidewalk
It was right around this time a year ago when Amazon introduced Sidewalk, an initiative to provide more flexibility as to where lower powered smart devices can be installed on your home network. Or as Amazon puts it, Sidewalk is a shared network that helps you and your neighbors' devices work better. Amazon has not forgotten about Sidewalk—just the opposite, Sidewalk will launch sometime this year.

In addition to confirming that Sidewalk will launch later this year, Amazon provided some more details about this interesting initiative, noting that it works with two types of devices—Sidewalk Bridges and Sidewalk-enabled devices.

"Sidewalk Bridges, including select Ring Floodlight Cams and Ring Spotlight Cams, are devices that provide connections to Sidewalk. Sidewalk-enabled devices connect to Sidewalk Bridges to access the network. Customers with a Sidewalk Bridge can contribute a small portion of their internet bandwidth, which is pooled together to create a shared network that benefits all Sidewalk-enabled devices in a community," Amazon explains.

Sidewalk uses a combination of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), 900MHz spectrum, and other frequencies to both simplify device setup and extend the range of low-bandwidth devices. Consider this scenario—you want to install a smart motion camera on your garage or somewhere on your property, but it is on the outer bounds of your Wi-Fi network. Normally, you would be out of luck.

This is where Sidewalk comes into play. Sidewalks helps those devices stay connected so you can continue to receive alerts, even when your Wi-Fi goes down completely.

"Sidewalk will also support a range of experiences from using Sidewalk-enabled devices to help find pets or valuables, to smart security and lighting, to diagnostics for appliances and tools," Amazon explains.

Amazon says many Echo devices will support Sidewalk when it launches. Same goes for Tile devices. It sounds neat, but what about security and privacy? Amazon says it is employing three layers of encryption to keep data safe that is shared over a network, and that the same encryption standard will be required for applications and devices that use the network.

The company also promises that if you choose to pool your bandwidth with your neighbors, you won't be able to see each other's data. We'll see (or hopefully, will not see).