Amazon expands its Sidewalk IoT network with an enterprise-grade bridge

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Back in 2019, Amazon first announced it sidewalk network, a new low-bandwidth, long-range wireless protocol for connecting smart devices and networks – and keeping them online when your own WiFi network, for example, is downed by piggybacking on your neighbor’s network. Since last year, Amazon has been turning its Echo devices into sidewalk bridges and select Ring and Tile devices can now access the network. Now, Amazon is launching its first professional-grade Sidewalk device, aimed at covering large areas like university campuses or parks.

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The new device’s full name is a mouthful: the Amazon Sidewalk Bridge Pro by Ring. It can be installed inside, but is mostly meant to be installed outside – and ideally in a high location – and can cover hundreds of devices up to five miles away (depending on local conditions, of course). .

To test the devices, Amazon partnered with Arizona State University, which will install these new sidewalk bridges on light poles at its Tempe campus. The University Technology Office plans to use it as a proof-of-concept, adding sunlight and temperature sensors, CO2 detectors and particle counters.


image credit: heroine

Also partnering with Amazon Thingy, an IoT company specializing in environmental monitoring, to set up its air quality monitoring equipment to alert first responders to potential wildfires.

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“Amazon Sidewalk Bridge Pro brings us the power of [Long Range] Easy integration with our existing applications in AWS, and reliable security for devices and applications, in a greater number of required locations. We are very excited to be working with Amazon Sidewalk to help measure air quality and wildfire with our sensors and solve connectivity challenges for these critical applications,” said CEO and co-founder of Thingy Scott Waller said.

But beyond the device itself, it’s the fact that Amazon continues to invest in the Sidewalk ecosystem that matters most here.

“We are building a network, we are enabling actors to help the IoT industry,” Stefano Landi, Director of heroine sidewalk, told me. ,At the end of the day, if we want to fuel the proliferation of smart and connected devices everywhere, you need to have the right network. If you talk to IoT developers today, yes, there are many options, but either it’s too expensive, from a connectivity perspective versus cellular, or the range is limited, or it’s draining the battery, or it’s just that That the overall development cycle is very complicated. So we realized that we should invest and that’s what we did and we continue to invest in enabling these networks so that the IoT community can build any type of application: consumer, enterprise, public sector. ,

Landi noted that just a few months after launching the network, the company now has very strong residential coverage in more than 100 major US metro areas. Of course, that’s because there are so many Echo devices in US homes and, unless users opt out, most modern Echo smart speakers have Sidewalk enabled by default. Not everyone is comfortable with it, though Amazon would argue that it designed its network for privacy and it won’t use a lot of bandwidth (it’s mostly for passing alerts, not your Ring camera’s video). feed, after all). But it’s a fair guess that most users don’t even know about Sidewalk to begin with.

However, covering the residential area is one thing. With Sidewalk Bridge Pro, businesses can now also cover an entire area of ​​land to connect their sensors. There seems to be some demand for this, as Landi noted that “more than a few thousand companies” have already reached out to Amazon to ask about commercial use cases — mostly for AWS IoT, the company’s cloud-based managed IoT service. in relation. A lot of this interest, Landis said, is coming from companies that want to build public sector solutions, mostly around smart city services.

“Sidewalk Bridge Pro is a professional-grade bridge that is absolutely ready to be deployed outside of those [residential areas],” Landis explained. “So that now you have a lot more coverage everywhere. Think commercial centers, parks, city parks, state parks, municipal parks, wooded areas, commercial areas, etc. Now you really bring that ubiquitous connectivity, so when you’re there, building a solution, you know the coverage is going to be pretty much anywhere you need it. ,

Landis notes that while he expects most users to install the bridge outdoors, it can also be used indoors to cover a warehouse or a large store. And even though it’s explicitly called ‘Pro’, we shouldn’t expect the company to launch a consumer-style “non-pro” version anytime soon. That’s what Echo and Ring devices are for after all.

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