Amazon, Silicon Labs collaborate on Sidewalk shared network

By Harry Menear
Amazon Sidewalk creates a shared neighbourhood network to improve connected device performance in residential areas...

Amazon has published an expansive update on its ongoing Amazon Sidewalk project.

First announced in September of 2019, Sidewalk is a networking meshing system which is created by groups of neighbouring homes sharing a small portion of their Wi-Fi bandwidth in order to use Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology to extend connectivity beyond the range of traditional Wi-Fi networks. 

These individual mesh networks will be scaled to the size of individual neighbourhoods, and turn supported smart home devices into smart bridges which link back to a central Wi-Fi hub.  

Amazon says that Sidewalk will allow users to continue to receive motion alerts from smart cameras, even without access to Wi-Fi, as well as extending connectivity to smart devices like smart outdoor lighting that exist beyond the range of the core Wi-FI network. 

In the future, Amazon adds, SideWalk will also be able to triangulate the location of smart devices by pinging off other network bridges. The company expects this technology to be useful in locating car keys, cell phones and even lost pets. 

Amazon’s latest blog also includes the announcement that Amazon Echo devices will begin supporting Sidewalk later this year, and that Tile - the digital tags that help keep track of lost phones and keys - will be the first third-party device to function on Sidewalk’s network. 

In trialling Sidewalk networks, Amazon has been working alongside a number of technology partners and OEMs - as well as a project with the American Red Cross to help track blood donations - to build out the technology’s capabilities. 

On Monday, Silicon Labs announced its participation with Amazon in developing IoT products with encrypted cloud communication, no matter which protocol is used.  

"Silicon Labs and Amazon are teaming up to help OEMs create amazing new user experiences with secure, private, easy to set up Sidewalk IoT devices," said Jake Alamat, vice president and general manager of IoT home and consumer products at Silicon Labs.

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