Monday, July 15, 2024

How Amazon Sidewalk works and why you might want to turn it off

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If you have Amazon devices As part of your smart home, there’s a new service on the block that you should be aware of – and as usual, there are both potential benefits and potential privacy implications to consider. when you decide if you want to be part of it.

The technology in question is Amazon sidewalk, which Amazon itself invoices like “a new way to stay connected.” Put simply, it uses Amazon’s smart home gear to create a series of mesh mini-grids, meaning your devices can stay connected further away from your router and even stay online when your Wi-Fi drops. Out of order.

This is made possible by Bluetooth and unused slices of the wireless spectrum, with Ring cameras and Echo speakers acting as the main bridges (actually called Sidewalk Bridges) to keep everything plugged in. For something to work with the network, it must be compatible with the Sidewalk standard.

Even if your Ring Camera is down at the end of the garden, out of range of your main router, Sidewalk may be able to reach it via a closer device. The network can’t carry a lot of data at once, but these smart home gadgets don’t necessarily need a lot of bandwidth to stay online.

The potential range of the network is decent – up to half a mile depending on configuration – and Sidewalk is free for Amazon customers once they purchase the hardware. As an added bonus, it will speed up the process of adding new Amazon devices to your smart home, as your existing hardware will be able to give you a hand with Wi-Fi connections, etc.

Amazon Sidewalk has started to roll out in the United States.

Courtesy of Amazon

Everything’s tempting so far, but the most controversial part of Amazon Sidewalk is the way it shares some of your internet bandwidth with your neighbors (and gets some of it back), creating a much bigger network. wide range of devices that can operate independently. If your internet connection goes down, your Ring camera can connect to the internet next door to continue sending you alerts, as long as you are both set up with Sidewalk.

Likewise, if your neighbor’s internet goes down, their smart devices can temporarily connect to your router and the Sidewalk network you created. If Amazon is successful, entire blocks will become Sidewalk networks, improving the reliability and stability of all the smart devices they contain.

Tile trackers are Sidewalk compatible as well, meaning they can report their location when they are within range of any of these bespoke networks, not just yours – potentially very useful if your dog or laptop disappears outside of your own Wi-Fi network. Fi network, but has a Tile tracker connected and can be located by any of the Sidewalk networks you are connected to.


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