(Pocket-lint) - Amazon has updated Sidewalk, its protocol that helps low-power devices, such as outdoor cameras or trackers, stay connected.

Amazon originally announced Sidewalk at its annual event in 2019, but the tech giant recently updated Sidewalk to support new Ring devices as well as new Echo devices arriving later in 2020. Here's everything you need to know about Amazon Sidewalk. 


What is Amazon Sidewalk?

Amazon Sidewalk is a low-bandwidth, long-distance wireless protocol that's developed for low-powered devices, with the goal of allowing them to better communicate over long ranges. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi often don’t offer enough range, while 5G is complex and requires a lot of power. That's where Amazon Sidewalk comes in handy.

Here's how Amazon describes Sidewalk:

“We came up with something that we call Amazon Sidewalk. It's a new low-bandwidth network that uses the already existing free over-the-air 900 megahertz spectrum. We think it will be great for keeping track of things, keeping things up to date - but first and foremost, it will extend the distance at which you can control these kinds of simple, low-cost, easy-to-use devices."


How does Amazon Sidewalk work?

Amazon Sidewalk works in the background. It lets you connect to and even track simple devices up to a mile away. It reminds us of mesh networking and crowdsourcing. There are two types of Sidewalk devices: Sidewalk Bridges and Sidewalk-enabled devices. Sidewalk Bridges provide connections to Sidewalk-enabled devices.

According to Amazon, some devices, like select versions of the Ring Floodlight Cams and the Ring Spotlight Cams, function as bridges, providing connections to Sidewalk-enabled devices. The whole idea is that someone's Sidewalk Bridge can securely provide a connection to someone else's Sidewalk-enabled device. This creates a mesh of connected devices that could allow something like an outdoor camera, which is outside of Wi-Fi range, to stay connected and communicate.

Another example is you could use a Sidewalk-enabled tracker, like a Tile, to track down a missing item while out of Wi-Fi range.

Which devices use Amazon Sidewalk?

Currently, only Sidewalk Bridges, such as the Ring Floodlight and Ring Spotlight Cams, are available. Users of these devices should receive an email and a notification in the Ring app with more information about how to participate in Amazon Sidewalk and allow them to adjust their settings.

See Amazon Sidewalk is now rolling out to Echo, Ring devices in the US - that's right, Amazon Sidewalk has not yet come to the UK. An Amazon spokesperson told us: "We recently began emailing customers with Echo devices registered in the US to give them more information about Amazon Sidewalk. This service will only be available in the US when it launches. We apologise for any confusion."

The new Echo/Echo Dot and newest Ring Floodlight and Spotlight cameras work as Sidewalk bridges so they can be at the centre of the Sidewalk network and communicate with other Sidewalk compatible devices such as pet trackers, Ring smart lights and the new Ring Car Alarm when they're out of Wi-Fi reach. 

Sidewalk Bridges

  • Amazon Echo Dot (3rd generation and newer)
  • Amazon Echo Dot with Clock (3rd generation and newer)
  • Amazon Echo Plus (1st generation and newer)
  • Amazon Echo Show (1st generation and newer)
  • Amazon Echo Show 5 (2019)
  • Amazon Echo Show 8 (2019)
  • Amazon Echo Show 10 (2020)
  • Amazon Echo Spot (2017)
  • Amazon Echo Studio (2018)
  • Ring Floodlight Cam (2019)
  • Ring Spotlight Cam Wired (2019)

Sidewalk devices

  • Tile
  • Ring Car Alarm

Want to know more?

Check out Amazon's FAQ page here for more details.

Writing by Maggie Tillman. Editing by Dan Grabham.