Amazon's New Sidewalk Technology: How It Works, And Why It Matters
What Is It
Among new technology headlines lately has been the announcement of a project called Amazon Sidewalk. Sidewalk integrates several different transmission technologies, including Bluetooth (for short distances), LoRa (long range), and frequency-shifts keying in at 900 MHz, which are meant for use with home appliances like garage door openers.
Unsurprisingly, Sidewalk works with Amazon’s proprietary products, including the Echo device sets, Ring doorbells and camera, and an as-of-yet unreleased pet collar called Fetch.
Why It Matters
Where Sidewalk has garnered controversy is over the share-all nature of the product, which enables Echo devices and other connected home networked devices to bridge between each other, potentially extending their range throughout your neighborhood. Handy, except for the implied consent that by having Sidewalk enabled on your device (which is automatic, and must be opted out of, vs. in), you’re also allowing neighborhood network devices to siphon off your wifi and bandwidth…up to 500MB a month.
Furthermore, the issues surrounding privacy and home network security are not that clearly explained, and there have been multiple instances of hackers using Echo devices and Ring software to break into networks and steal information.
How to Opt Out
The best option right now is to opt out. You can do that from the (updated) Alexa app. Sign into your Amazon account, then tap More > Settings > Account Settings > Amazon Sidewalk.
Here is the list of devices Amazon says support Sidewalk:
Ring Floodlight Cam (2019)
Ring Spotlight Cam Wired (2019)
Ring Spotlight Cam Mount (2019)
Echo (3rd gen and newer)
Echo Dot (3rd gen and newer)
Echo Dot for Kids (3rd gen and newer)
Echo Dot with Clock (3rd gen and newer)
Echo Plus (all generations)
Echo Show (all models and generations)