The formerly far-flung promise of the smart home is increasingly real as technology advances, more devices and sensors come online, and the perimeter of connected devices expands. With recent research revealing that nearly two-thirds of Americans own a connected smart home device, reliable and secure network coverage has never been more important. To help developers take advantage of Amazon Sidewalk, a shared network that helps extend the reach of Internet of Things applications, our partner Silicon Labs invited us to participate in a recent panel discussion exploring technology and its capabilities.
Covering how to navigate the Amazon Sidewalk development journey, this Works With 2023 Amazon Sidewalk: Leveraging a New Shared Neighborhood Network panel featured expert panelists from Amazon Sidewalk, Amazon Web Services, our partner Silicon Labs and others. As both a Silicon Labs design partner and an AWS IoT Partner, we were excited to discuss the shared network’s reception since its March 2023 debut and the opportunities it presents for device makers and consumers.
We’ll dive into the discussion’s key takeaways — including use cases, value propositions and future opportunities — below, but you can register to watch the on-demand webinar recording at this link.
- Amazon Sidewalk: “A Ubiquitous Continuous Network”
- Unpacking Amazon Sidewalk’s Radio Strategy
- Amazon Sidewalk’s 5 Key Value Propositions
- What’s Next with Amazon Sidewalk?
Amazon Sidewalk: “A Ubiquitous Continuous Network”
Launched earlier this year, Amazon Sidewalk helps connected devices “work better at home and beyond the front door.” The shared network infrastructure creates a low-bandwidth network with the help of Sidewalk Bridge devices — think Amazon Echo devices, Ring Security Cams, Tile trackers, smart home automation systems, outdoor lights, motion sensors and more.
Amazon Sidewalk is aimed at small, low-bandwidth devices sending low amounts of data. From smart homes to industrial applications, the ability to seamlessly link devices empowers us to create a new network that opens up tremendous possibilities. Imagine a world in which a variety of sensors, meters and devices — from location and asset trackers to irrigation controls, water leak sensors, smart streetlights and beyond — seamlessly exchange information in a unified ecosystem to help the community:
- Find lost items: Designed to work with tracker devices, Amazon Sidewalk can help you find valuables outside your home.
- Protect its privacy: Sidewalk is designed with multiple layers of privacy and security.
- Stay connected: Amazon Sidewalk simplifies reconnecting a Sidewalk Bridge device to your router when it loses its Wi-Fi connection. It can also help keep Sidewalk-enabled devices outdoors or in garages connected.
To enable this ubiquitous connectivity, Amazon Sidewalk employs an innovative radio strategy.
Unpacking Amazon Sidewalk’s Radio Strategy
Amazon Sidewalk leverages three radios — and millions of bridges nationwide — to sufficiently cover data transmission over the most extensive range possible. Many developers ask, “Why bother with two of the three standards since the shared network already utilizes LoRa CSS?”
Understanding that each of the three radio technologies has a sweet spot for what it’s accomplishing — whether battery power, data rate, etc. — is critical. Three different radios empower product developers to switch frequencies depending on various needs, ultimately tailoring Sidewalk to the device’s specific use case. This is a significant paradigm shift in how to think about product functionality.
Today, Amazon Sidewalk serves more than 90% of the U.S. population — and growing — making its ubiquitous and continuous nature a unique value proposition in a digital world rife with siloed, smaller networks. Let’s check out the secure, free-to-connect community network’s other value propositions.
Amazon Sidewalk’s 5 Key Value Propositions
#1 Extending Range and Accessibility
One of Amazon Sidewalk’s most prominent value propositions is extending the reach of devices beyond the bounds of traditional connectivity beyond the home and into the community. Whether searching for lost pets or valuable items, delivering backup connectivity, and much more, Amazon Sidewalk harnesses frequencies like the 900 MHz band to transmit encrypted data — via the cloud — up to a half mile away.
#2 Gateway-Free Connectivity
Unlike Wi-Fi and cellular networks, which are designed for high-bandwidth activities like video calling, web browsing and video streaming, Amazon Sidewalk doesn’t demand user credentials or an intermediary proprietary gateway for network access. Because Sidewalk Bridges and Sidewalk-enabled devices can directly access the Sidewalk network, this level of connectivity reduces the complexities associated with multiple devices and gateways and improves reliability.
#3 Connectivity in Remote or Challenging Areas
Leveraging Bluetooth Low Energy for short distances, LoRa and FSK radio protocols at 900 MHz frequencies, Sidewalk can penetrate challenging environments like unfinished basements, garages and difficult-to-reach isolated regions where Wi-Fi struggles. This improved connectivity ensures that devices can communicate effectively — especially in environments with traditionally weak signals or beyond the farthest corners of your home.
#4 Cost-Effective Cloud Data Transmission
Transmitting data to the cloud without incurring additional charges is a notable advantage of Amazon Sidewalk. Less expensive than the cost of a typical cellular network, Amazon Sidewalk opens up no-cost avenues for transmitting information throughout homes, businesses and cities, potentially revolutionizing data communication, particularly for applications involving continuous data flows.
#5 Diverse Technological Integration
By incorporating other technologies like BLE, CSS and FSK modulation, Sidewalk unlocks a new way of thinking — beyond cellular and satellite. This diverse integration enables a broader spectrum of devices to connect, opening the door to a more comprehensive array of future applications.
Considering the immense transformational potential and exciting new possibilities Amazon Sidewalk unlocks, the shared network technology has the potential to serve as the foundation of a fully connected world.
What’s Next with Amazon Sidewalk?
Our panel discussion revealed exciting prospects for the future of Amazon Sidewalk, nurturing creativity among product developers as the technology advances and Sidewalk, the Matter smart home standard and LoRaWAN approaches merge to enable more coverage and responsible innovation. The ability to transcend barriers, simplify connectivity and offer backup connectivity options redefines how we interact with devices — and the world around us.
Venturing into this new era of connectivity, Amazon Sidewalk holds the promise of a more interconnected and efficient world. But it’s up to developers to understand how to fully harness its power to bring the greatest benefit to light.
To access the recording of the insightful panel discussion and delve deeper into the world of Amazon Sidewalk, visit silabs.com/support/training/amazon-sidewalk-leverage-shared-neighborhood-networks.