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Amazon builds low power IoT network: Sidewalk

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By Nick Flaherty


E-commerce and cloud giant Amazon is lining up supplier for its low power long range mesh networking project called Sidewalk for the Internet of Things (IoT).

This uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), Frequency Shift Keying (FSK) and Chirp Spread Spectrum (CSS) protocols in the 900MHz band to simplify new device setup and extend the low-bandwidth working range of devices. This is intended to help mobile devices stay online outside the range of home Wi-Fi by using the mesh technology embedded in neighbouring devices such as the Amazon Echo smart speaker or Ring cameras.

Amazon Sidewalk will launch later this year, and both Semtech and Silicon Labs are lining up to provide the enabling technology. Semtech, experts in the LoRa long range, low power wireless protocol, will provide the RF front end, while Silicon Labs has already integrated LoRa into its Wireless Gecko microcontrollers.

“Semtech’s LoRa is a proven IoT solution that supports a long range, low power wide area network (LPWAN) platform and meets Amazon Sidewalk’s goal of providing the network support needed to connect a broad range of low power home devices or sensors. The collaboration with Amazon solidifies that LoRa is the de facto platform for IoT LPWAN applications and expands LoRa to new consumer applications,” said Mohan Maheswaran, President and CEO of Semtech.

“Silicon Labs and Amazon are teaming up to help OEMs create amazing new user experiences with secure, private, easy to set up Sidewalk IoT devices,” said Jake Alamat, vice president and general manager of IoT home and consumer products at Silicon Labs.

This would allow users to continue to receive motion alerts from security cameras even when the WiFi goes down, or connect smart lights at the edge of the driveway that are out of WiFi range. But this also adds smart security and lighting as well as diagnostics for appliances and tools.

This needs the technology to be integrated into end devices.

Later this year, Amazon plans to demonstrate a proof of concept with the American Red Cross to track blood collections supplies between distribution centres and donation sites to add new efficiencies within the blood donation supply chain.

To support this effort, Amazon is donating the devices, technology, and teams needed for this proof of concept.

Security is a key element, and a factor that Silicon Labs has been highlighting. The Sidewalk network uses three layers of encryption to keep data shared over the network safe, and the same strong encryption standards are required for all applications and devices that use the network.

Later this month, customers who own compatible Ring Floodlight and Spotlight Cams will receive an email and a notification in the Ring app where they can read more about participating in the Amazon Sidewalk network and adjust feature controls to their preference. Echo customers with a compatible device will receive this communication and control option later this year.

amazon.com/sidewalk; Sidewalk for developers

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