(Pocket-lint) – Amazon is finally launching Sidewalk after years of development, and it has some pretty big partners to kick things off.

On 8 June 2021, Amazon is activating Sidewalk support for most Echo speakers. Ring products, Tile Bluetooth trackers, and Level’s smart locks will be among other early partners. Tile said it will begin supporting Sidewalk on 14 June 2021, allowing it to leverage Echo devices as part of Tile’s network.

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. Amazon Sidewalk works in the background. It lets you connect to and even track simple devices up to a mile away. It actually 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. Some Amazon devices, like Ring Floodlight 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.

Sidewalk uses a combination of “Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), the 900 MHz spectrum, and other frequencies” to allow devices to communicate without Wi-Fi, according to Amazon. Echo and Ring gadgets will serve as Sidewalk Bridges. When Tile joins Sidewalk, you’ll be able to locate its trackers using Amazon’s network in conjunction with Tile’s existing Bluetooth network. You’ll even be able to tell which Echo device is closest to a missing tag.

Sidewalk is not quite as localised or as powerful as an ultra-wideband network, which is what Apple’s AirTag trackers use, but it’s still sounds useful. 

Writing by Maggie Tillman.





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