Amazon’s Sidewalk Bridge Pro by Ring Extends Mesh Network to Public Places

After going very quiet on its once-vaunted Sidewalk connectivity network, Amazon is kicking off 2022 with a bang. Today he launched the Ring-powered Amazon Sidewalk Bridge Pro (doesn’t that come out of the tongue?).

This professional-grade bridge is designed to extend low-bandwidth, long-distance wireless network in public spaces, such as city parks, state parks, downtowns, universities, businesses and other places where there probably aren’t a lot of Ring and Echo devices lying around.

“Sidewalk’s long-term vision is to foster the proliferation of smart and connected objects,” said Stefano Landi, director of Amazon Sidewalk, in an interview with The edge. “Connectivity is the biggest challenge for devices today. Cellular connectivity is too expensive and Wi-Fi and LoRaWAN coverage is limited, says Landi. “To help the whole ecosystem, an open network like Sidewalk, available everywhere, was needed. ”

The Sidewalk Bridge Pro is designed for use by businesses, municipalities, and other large organizations.
Image: Amazon

To promote the benefits of this Amazon Sidewalk expansion beyond residential, Amazon has partnered with Arizona State University and Thingy to launch pilot programs. University uses the bridge in its smart city research, and air quality monitor maker Thingy is deploying it to connect its air quality systems in wilderness areas where firefighters struggle against forest fires.

“We designed Thingy AQ for very remote locations, where power efficiency and range were critical for ground operations, and we’ve been using LoRa since day one,” said Scott Waller, CEO and co-founder of Thingy . “Amazon Sidewalk Bridge Pro brings us the power of LoRa in a large number of necessary locations, easy integration with our existing applications in Amazon Web Services, and reliable security for devices and applications. “

Landi says Sidewalk has gained strong residential coverage in more than 100 major metropolitan areas since it went live in June 2021. There, its primary focus is to expand connectivity for smart home devices.

As the smart home moves out of the house, to landscaped lighting, outdoor motion sensors, garage door controllers, and animal tracking, these gadgets can struggle to maintain a connection to your Wi-Fi. a house. Sidewalk can extend the low bandwidth operating range of these devices.

In homes, most Echo smart speakers and some Ring cameras act as sidewalk bridges, allowing it to consume a bit of each device’s bandwidth to power its network (which uses Bluetooth Low Energy, 900 MHz LoRa and other frequencies). The more your neighbors are equipped with sidewalk bridges, the stronger the network. Users of Echo devices can choose to turn Sidewalk on when they set up their speaker and turn it on or off at any time.

The Sidewalk Bridge Pro could further extend that neighborhood connectivity while using fewer devices. It is a rugged, weather-resistant device designed to be deployed by businesses and municipalities and used outdoors. An ideal place would be on top of buildings, says Landi. There it can pick up any sidewalk signal the same way your smartphone connects to a cell tower. So if Fido runs to the city park for a walk, you can still find him.

In ideal scenarios, the Sidewalk Bridge Pro has a range of up to five miles, and it should be connected via Wi-Fi or Ethernet (PoE) with the option of cellular connectivity. It requires mains power but has a built-in backup battery.

“This is the number two year of Sidewalk, and it’s going to be a long journey,” says Landi. “But we believe this is exactly the type of network that will drive innovation. Our North Star is to connect billions of third-party devices. Landi sees Sidewalk as a network for developers to build devices on what they previously couldn’t build, due to cost issues associated with current connectivity options.

But if the developers are to build for Sidewalk, it has to be a robust network, and the Bridge Pro is a step in that direction. Amazon wants businesses and municipalities to team up to deploy the bridge. There is no pricing available yet, however, as how it will hit the market is still undecided, Landi says.

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