On our most recent IoT Podcast episode, Chris called in asking about Amazon’s Sidewalk network. He wants to know if he can make his own devices that work with Sidewalk now. Since this low-range, wide-area network only went live last month, it’s a little early for that. But soon, anyone with the right DIY skills and boards should be able to do what Chris intends.
If you missed the official launch of Sidewalk or you’re not familiar with what Chris is talking about, Sidewalk is Amazon’s attempt to build out an IoT network. Many recent Amazon Echo devices can act as Sidewalk bridges that will gather up sensor data from Sidewalk devices, such as Level Locks or Tile trackers.
That data is pulled in through either Bluetooth or unlicensed 900 MHz spectrum, which has a longer range than Wi-Fi. Sensor data is then sent to Amazon through your home internet service, which has turned quite a few folks off from the effort.
The good news for Chris and people like him is that you can currently apply to the developer preview of Sidewalk here. Amazon hasn’t provided a timeline on when the preview will begin, unfortunately. Once it does open up, developers and DIY’ers will have access to the Sidewalk network. And this will allow them to build low-powered sensors with Sidewalk connectivity.
We suggest that Chris and others interested in this apply now because we don’t know how many applicants Amazon will initially accept. Our other suggestion, in preparation to build Sidewalk devices, is to review the Amazon Sidewalk Developer Services Program Requirements.
Stacey and I did just that to see what you’re agreeing to with Amazon. I’d consider most of the document to be a boilerplate of expected limitations but still, you’ll want to read these. And make sure you don’t skip the parts about using any Amazon or Alexa branding; not even a circular blue ring like on the Echo!
Additionally, we found a link for the Sidewalk Product Security Requirements, and let’s just say: Amazon isn’t messing around. This framework mandates a large number of good security practices here, which we were happy to see.
There are firmware update requirements, the need for hardware-based security on your device, no hardcoded encryption keys, and more. Plus you have to supply an unencrypted copy of your device’s firmware for Amazon’s review. Again, these appear to be good, common sense IoT device security approaches. So read up on them now in anticipation of building Sidewalk devices in the future!
To hear Chris’s question, as well as our discussion on the topic, tune in to the IoT Podcast below: