Amazon Sidewalk is a connected network powered by Amazon devices, like Ring cameras and Echo speakers, which aims to keep devices connected beyond the reach of Wi-Fi signals. Amazon is now opening up Sidewalk to more companies and devices.
Amazon announced today that the Sidewalk network is now open for testing by developers and device makers. The company has created software development kits (SDKs) for creating applications that use Sidewalk technology, as well as hardware kits designed to help create physical devices that connect to Sidewalk.
Amazon Sidewalk is advertised as a multi-purpose network, with the ability to help locate trackers (like Apple’s Find My network), but also provide limited internet connections to devices that can’t reach a Wi-Fi signal (or if your home’s network is disconnected). The company says in an FAQ article, “For example, if your Echo device loses its wifi connection, Sidewalk can simplify reconnecting to your router. For select Ring devices, you can continue to receive motion alerts from your Ring Security Cams and customer support can still troubleshoot problems even if your devices lose their wifi connection. Sidewalk can also extend the working range for your Sidewalk-enabled devices, such as Ring smart lights, pet locators or smart locks, so they can stay connected and continue to work over longer distances.”
Even though Amazon Sidewalk was announced in 2019, it hasn’t been widely used outside of Amazon’s own hardware products. There have been partnerships with Tile and Level, but not much beyond that. Amazon’s announcement mentioned that Netvox is working on smart sensors for home and industrial areas with Sidewalk, and a smart door lock from Primax will use Sidewalk “to help customers experience easy installation and access to remote status monitoring, as well as remote door lock and unlock.”
The initial rollout of Sidewalk was criticized because it turned many existing Amazon devices into network nodes without explicit permission, which also involves the devices using more data on your network. Amazon says Sidewalk bridges (the devices providing a Sidewalk signal that are connected to your network) are limited to 80Kbps of bandwidth at any given time. It’s also possible to turn Sidewalk off completely.
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