Amazon is gearing up to unveil another way for consumers to stay connected and utilize technology in their daily lives: Amazon Sidewalk. It’s not quite a physical gadget that consumers can use—it’s a little more complex yet appears to be able to enhance consumer usage with smart technology while creating innovative experiences.
What Is Amazon Sidewalk?
In a nutshell, Amazon Sidewalk is a network that uses Bluetooth technology to extend the “working range of low-bandwidth, low-power, smart lights, sensors” and other devices that are not close to your home Wi-Fi router. For instance, if you own any outdoor security cameras that could lose connection from your home Wi-Fi due to distance, Amazon Sidewalk could help that device stay online, allowing you to still receive alerts. By design, this network will allow you to extend your connection more than a half mile (one kilometer).
How Does Amazon Sidewalk Work?
Amazon Sidewalk uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), a 900 MHz spectrum, which is nothing new but is also used by emergency services via radio. With an Amazon Sidewalk enabled device, you’ll be able to toggle on Sidewalk through your Ring or Alexa mobile app. This will allow you to extend the range of your compatible devices, as well as help neighbors stay connected to their devices.
If you’ve ever heard of a mesh network, Sidewalk functions a bit like this. The more neighbors who have Sidewalk-enabled devices and use this network, the stronger the network will be.
The Sidewalk server will use about 80Kbps of your home Wi-Fi’s bandwidth (no more than 500MB per month). Your device will act as a “bridge” that allows other Sidewalk users to manage their smart home home devices.
The company aims to not only enhance current user experiences, such as by allowing consumers to manage security cameras, security systems, and appliances, but also create new helpful experiences.
What Devices Work with Amazon Sidewalk?
A number of Amazon products, like Ring Spotlight Cams and Echo Dots, are already designed to support Sidewalk. Here’s a complete list from the company:
- Ring Floodlight Cam (2019)
- Ring Spotlight Cam Wired (2019)
- Ring Spotlight Cam Mount (2019)
- Echo (2nd Gen)
- Echo (3rd Gen)
- Echo (4th Gen)
- Echo Dot (2nd Gen)
- Echo Dot (3rd Gen)
- Echo Dot (4th Gen)
- Echo Dot (2nd Gen) for Kids
- Echo Dot (3rd Gen) for Kids
- Echo Dot (4th Gen) for Kids
- Echo Dot with Clock (3rd Gen)
- Echo Dot with Clock (4th Gen)
- Echo Plus (1st Gen)
- Echo Plus (2nd Gen)
- Echo Show (1st Gen)
- Echo Show (2nd Gen)
- Echo Show 5
- Echo Show 8
- Echo Show 10
- Echo Spot
- Echo Studio
Later this year, Amazon is planning to allow Ring users to enable Sidewalk for compatible devices.
Is Amazon Sidewalk Free?
Yes, Amazon Sidewalk will be free to use. There will be no charge. As long as you have a compatible device, once Sidewalk is released, you’ll be able to toggle it on.
Is It Safe?
Sidewalk doesn’t come without security measures and has multiple layers of encryption to prevent hackers from intercepting data. The company says, “you’ll have the option to help your neighbors by sharing your Bridge’s approximate location to provide benefits like helping them locate their pet. Neighbors with Sidewalk compatible devices won’t be able to see the exact street address of your Sidewalk Bridge. They will only see an approximate location.”
As with most smart home devices, while you’re able to reap the benefits of the technology, you’re also sharing some data. With Alexa Echo devices, you can now have Alexa remove data that you don’t want stored, which is a helpful step you can take. Another positive is that Amazon is providing a Privacy and Security Whitepaper consumers can read for more information on privacy with Sidewalk. Ultimately, you’ll have to determine if the trade-off is worth it for your needs.
When Will Amazon Sidewalk Be Released?
Sidewalk is scheduled to be released later this year. Amazon is already in the works of having its first 3rd-party integration with Tile, a location-tracking device. Stay tuned!
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