Amazon’s ambitions to extend your smart home outside are starting to take off. While the company announced the Sidewalk initiative last year, we haven’t heard much more until now. Now Amazon says it’s getting closer to release and will expand the standard to Echo devices and Tile. The latter marks the first third-party company collaboration for Sidewalk.
Sidewalk is yet another smart home standard, much like ZigBee and Z-Wave, but works a little differently than the standards that came before it. Whether you use ZigBee or WiFi connected devices, your smart home typically won’t extend beyond your home. Even the few outdoor gadgets that exist right now, like smart cameras, don’t usually go very far beyond your four walls.
But Sidewalk wants to do exactly that. It relies on the 900 MHz spectrum to extend WiFi well beyond what’s usually possible. That makes concepts like smart lighting for the entire length of your driveway possible. But you’ll still need bridging devices to connect that extended network.
Amazon announced today that Echo devices would serve as just that bridge through a Bluetooth connection. But that doesn’t mean just your Echo devices; your neighbor’s Echo dot could serve as a bridge too.
Obviously, there are some security implications with that, and to address those concerns, Amazon released a whitepaper today to detail steps it would take to keep your data out of your neighbor’s hands. That includes using a triple-layer encryption protocol.
Your Echo and Ring devices can extend your smart home network to farther reaches outside your home. And Tile will take advantage of that larger network soon. Currently, if you lose a Tile-connected device, its limited range can prevent finding the tracker. But Sidewalk enabled Tile devices can connect to any Sidewalk neighborhood so you can find your lost keys or camera.
Amazon hasn’t said yet when Sidewalk will make its full debut. Still, it says Ring owners with compatible products will get an email later this month with more details about upcoming capabilities. When we learn more, we’ll let you know. But for now, it might be time to start thinking of smart homes as smart neighborhoods.