After first being announced last year, Amazon has released an update on its Sidewalk program. 


James Martin/CNET

Amazon Sidewalk, a low-bandwidth network that was first announced last year, is getting some new smart devices as it prepares to launch later this year. 

On Monday the technology giant announced in a blog post that later this year “many Echo devices will support Amazon Sidewalk” as a way to “use Echo as a Bluetooth Sidewalk Bridge to help compatible devices automatically connect or reconnect to their router, set up new Echo devices, or locate items connected to Sidewalk.” 

Amazon also revealed that it is partnering with tracking company Tile to create the “first third-party Sidewalk-enabled device and experience on Sidewalk to help customers find misplaced keys or wallets, or locate a backpack left at a neighborhood picnic.” The retail giant is also working on a trial with the American Red Cross to see if Amazon Sidewalk can be useful in “the tracking of blood collections supplies between distribution centers and donation sites.”

Using a combination of Bluetooth Low Energy and 900Mhz wireless spectrum, Amazon Sidewalk is designed to extend connectivity to smart devices even when Wi-Fi is unavailable and without using a traditional cellular data network.  Devices like the Ring Floodlight Cams or Ring Spotlight Cams can act as what Amazon calls “Sidewalk Bridges” and provide a way for nearby devices that are Sidewalk-enabled to connect, even if they aren’t products that you own.

Amazon says that the Sidewalk network uses “three layers of encryption to keep data shared over the network safe,” adding that “owners of other devices cannot view data sent from your devices.” To protect internet bandwidth for those with a Sidewalk Bridge, Amazon says that there are “maximum upload limits and bandwidth caps to preserve internet bandwidth.” The Bridge feature can also be turned off on your device so that it doesn’t broadcast a signal. 

The company will be emailing and notifying those who own either Ring camera later this month about participating in Sidewalk. A number of older Echo devices will be able to act as Bluetooth Sidewalk Bridges, with the company detailing the devices in an FAQ section on its Sidewalk page

The timing of the news comes days before Amazon is set to announce new devices at its annual September event. The Tile partnership, meanwhile, comes as the popular tracker seems set to face increased competition from Apple, which has long been rumored to be working on its own smart tracker called AirTags.  

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