Amazon has announced that as of June 8, all the company’s devices (Echo home assistants, Ring cameras, etc.) in the United States will automatically connect with each other, forming a vast wireless mesh network via Bluetooth and radio signals in the 900MHz band, to create Amazon Sidewalk, its IoT service provider. The company says the network won’t use much bandwidth: the maximum from a Sidewalk Bridge to the Sidewalk server is 80 Kbps, and the total monthly data used per account is capped at 500 MB, but which will operate in opt-out mode: all devices will connect to it unless the user expressly changes the settings.
What are we talking about here? Basically, the creation of wirelessly connected zones where it would be easy to locate any object carrying a Tile device, although it seems unlikely that Amazon’s ambitions are that limited: it says the network can also be used to connect to devices far from our own WiFi. Device connections to the network are free, but are designed to support small bandwidth, clearly indicating a vocation for the IoT environment. In addition, the company offers Sidewalk Developer Service (SDS), a collection of approved silicon chipsets along with development boards, device software development kits (SDKs), device provisioning tools, technical documentation and a cloud integration for developers who want to take advantage of Amazon Sidewalk functionality, indicating that, as with almost everything it does, the company intends to create a platform for third parties.
In the United States alone, the number of smart assistants and devices in the Amazon Echo range, the ubiquitous Alexa, exceeded 100 million units in 2019, with a market share of around 70%, while Ring’s security cameras, smart video doorbells and alarms sold more than 1.4 million units in 2020 alone. This is a potentially huge network, and that’s not even counting many of the company’s other devices, from Kindle e-books, Amazon Fire tablets, Fire stick TV content players, or Amazon Eero mesh routers, to even more minor ones, such as Key by Amazon which coordinates package delivery to gas stations.
When this vast network suddenly starts connecting on June 8, it will potentially make Amazon a major player in the IoT world. That said, considering the many security vulnerabilities we have seen with communications protocols over the years, I would imagine that anyone hearing about it would be frantically searching for the menu on the Alexa app to disable the feature, or at least wait for the company to justify the initiative with more convincing arguments than it has managed so far. But as Amazon is well aware, the vast majority of people never change their devices’ factory settings and don’t read news related to such issues either, suggesting that the rollout of Amazon Sidewalk on June 8 in the United States will be a success. In the rest of the world, the option does not even appear on the app’s menu, indicating that a global rollout will take some time.
The question still remains: where is Amazon going with Sidewalk?
social experiment by Livio Acerbo #greengroundit #thisisnotapost #thisisart