Amazon has updated Sidewalk, its protocol that helps low-power devices, such as outdoor cameras or trackers, stay connected.
Amazon originally announced Sidewalk at its annual autumn event in 2019, but the tech giant recently revealed that Sidewalk has been updated to support new Ring devices as well as new Echo devices arriving later in 2020. Here’s everything you need to know about Amazon Sidewalk.
What is Amazon Sidewalk?
Amazon Sidewalk is a low-bandwidth, long-distance wireless protocol that’s developed for low-powered devices, with the goal of allowing them to better communicate over long ranges. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi often don’t offer enough range, while 5G is complex and requires a lot of power. That’s where Amazon Sidewalk comes in handy.
Here’s how Amazon describes Sidewalk:
“We came up with something that we call Amazon Sidewalk. It’s a new low-bandwidth network that uses the already existing free over-the-air 900 megahertz spectrum. We think it will be great for keeping track of things, keeping things up to date – but first and foremost, it will extend the distance at which you can control these kinds of simple, low-cost, easy-to-use devices.”
How does Amazon Sidewalk work?
Amazon Sidewalk works in the background. It lets you connect to and even track simple devices up to a mile away. It reminds us of mesh networking and crowdsourcing. There are two types of Sidewalk devices: Sidewalk Bridges and Sidewalk-enabled devices. Sidewalk Bridges provide connections to Sidewalk-enabled devices.
According to Amazon, some devices, like select versions of the Ring Floodlight Cams and the Ring Spotlight Cams, function as bridges, providing connections to Sidewalk-enabled devices. The whole idea is that someone’s Sidewalk Bridge can securely provide a connection to someone else’s Sidewalk-enabled device. This creates a mesh of connected devices that could allow something like an outdoor camera, which is outside of Wi-Fi range, to stay connected and communicate.
Another example is you could use a Sidewalk-enabled tracker, like a Tile, to track down a missing item while out of Wi-Fi range.
Which devices use Amazon Sidewalk?
Currently, only Sidewalk Bridges, such as the Ring Floodlight and Ring Spotlight Cams, are available. Users of these devices should receive an email and a notification in the Ring app before 1 October 2020 with more information about how to participate in Amazon Sidewalk and allow them to adjust their settings.
Users of Amazon’s new Sidewalk-compatible Echo devices can also expect the same when they release, as those will be sold as Sidewalk Bridges, too.
Tile is expected to be the first third party Sidewalk-enabled device. New trackers from Tile, due out by the end of the year, will use the Sidewalk network to help customers find their lost wallets, purses, and backpacks. There’s also the new lineup of Amazon-owned Ring devices for your car – the Ring Car Cam and Alarm – that use Sidewalk So, when out of Wi-Fi range, your Ring Car Alarm will work and alert you of potential break-ins and other events.
- Amazon Echo Dot (3rd generation and newer)
- Amazon Echo Dot with Clock (3rd generation and newer)
- Amazon Echo Plus (1st generation and newer)
- Amazon Echo Show (1st generation and newer)
- Amazon Echo Show 5 (2019)
- Amazon Echo Show 8 (2019)
- Amazon Echo Show 10 (2020)
- Amazon Echo Spot (2017)
- Amazon Echo Studio (2018)
- Ring Floodlight Cam (2019)
- Ring Spotlight Cam Wired (2019)
- Ring Car Alarm
When will Amazon Sidewalk be available?
The latest version of Amazon Sidewalk is rolling out first to users with Ring Spotlight Cams and Ring Floodlight Cams sometime in September 2020 before coming to newer Echo devices later this year. Sidewalk-enabled devices like Tile and the Ring Car Alarm will also be available later this year.
Want to know more?
Check out Amazon’s FAQ page here for more details.