April 11, 2023
For those of you in the Amazon and Alexa smart home camp, you’re probably familiar with Amazon Sidewalk. If you use Google Home or Apple HomeKit to manage your smart home, Amazon Sidewalk is a connected network powered by Amazon devices, like Ring cameras and Echo speakers, which focuses on keeping devices connected beyond the reach of WiFi signals. For more details, se my previous post ‘Amazon Sidewalk — are you in or out?’
Amazon designed the Sidewalk Network with the intent to provide connectivity between home WiFi networks and cellular coverage. This provides low-cost connectivity for devices that are out of WiFi range but where cellular radios aren’t a fit due to cost, size or battery limitations.
Amazon announced recently that the Sidewalk network is now open for testing by developers and device makers as they are opening up Sidewalk to more companies and devices. 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 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 WiFi signal. Or if your home’s network is disconnected or offline. 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 a couple years ago was criticized because it turned many existing Amazon devices into network nodes without explicit permission. The concern is this also involves devices using more data on your network. Sidewalk bridges that provide signal that are connected to your network are limited to 80Kbps of bandwidth at any given time. Plus it’s also possible to turn Sidewalk off completely.
I see this expansion probably has a lot to do with the Matter initiative. Matter is a collaboration between hundreds of smart home technology providers to standardize and simplify connectivity between the multitude of smart home devices. My assumption is Amazon is seeing the future of the connected smart home and opening up Sidewalk to accommodate the larger ecosystem. To read more on Matter see my post ‘Matter is Finally Here! But …’
This all may sound a little complicated if you’re new to smart home. But ‘trust the process’ as they say as now there’s a roadmap for future smart home development. Sidewalk and Matter are huge steps forward in standardization and simplifying smart home in general.
Let Debbie and I know in the comments, DMs and emails what you think. Thanks again to all those following Debbie and I through our home building journey. It’s great to hear your success stories and suggestions as we move through the process. And if you like the content I’m posting each week, don’t forget to ‘Like’ and ‘Follow.’
In full disclosure, I’m not an affiliate marketer with links to any online retailer on my website. When people read what I’ve written about a particular product and then click on those links and buy something from the retailer, I earn nothing from the retailer. The links are strictly a convenience for my readers.