Amazon’s ambitions to expand your smart home outdoors are starting to take off. While the company announced the Sidewalk initiative last year, we haven’t heard much more so far. Now Amazon says it’s getting closer to release and will extend the standard to Echo and Tile devices. The latter marks the first third-party corporate collaboration for Sidewalk.
Sidewalk is yet another smart home standard, just like ZigBee and Z-Wave, but works a little differently from the standards that came before it. Whether you are using ZigBee or WiFi connected devices, your smart home will generally not extend beyond your home. Even the few outdoor gadgets that exist today, like smart cameras, don’t usually go far beyond your own four walls.
But Sidewalk wants to do just that. It leverages the 900 MHz spectrum to extend WiFi far beyond what is usually possible. This makes concepts like smart lighting possible along the entire length of your driveway. But you will still need bridging devices to connect to this WAN.
Amazon today announced that the Echo devices will only act as a bridge over a Bluetooth connection. But that doesn’t just mean your Echo devices; Your neighbor’s Echo point could also serve as a bridge.
Obviously, this has security implications, and to address those concerns, Amazon has released a white paper today for detailed steps to keep your data out of your neighbor’s hands. This includes the use of a three-layer encryption protocol.
Your Echo and Ring devices can extend your smart home network to more remote areas outside of your home. And Tile will soon take advantage of this larger network. Currently, if you lose a device connected to Tile, its limited range may make it impossible to find the tracker. But Sidewalk-enabled Tile devices can connect to any Sidewalk neighborhood so you can find your lost keys or camera.
Amazon has yet to say when Sidewalk will make its full debut. Still, he says Ring owners with compatible products will receive an email later this month with more details on upcoming capabilities. When we know more, we will let you know. But for now, maybe it’s time to start thinking about smart homes as smart neighborhoods.