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Who Wants An Online Community? Amazon Sure Does!

Who Wants An Online Community? Amazon Sure Does!

Online Community - Amazon Sidewalk

A lot of us are parts of small communities on the internet, be it Facebook groups, WhatsApp groups, or online forums like Reddit & Quora. What if your online community took it up a notch and became video enabled? Always watching?

Online Community
Image Source: Still from the movie “Eye In the Sky”

Amazon recently announced their new shared network, Amazon Sidewalk, that helps end-users connect devices just outside of their home WiFi range. This is possible with the help of “Sidewalk Bridge” devices such as Ring cameras and Echo devices. These devices will use a portion of your bandwidth and pool together resources from your WiFi and that of your neighbors or your online community. This is not expected to drain your bandwidth as it is expecting to use only a low bandwidth range of up to 80kbps.

Network effects, or the internet’s pyramid scheme, is a phenomenon where participants benefit when there are more people in the network than out of it. For example, Uber Eats is only valuable as long as there are multiple restaurants on it and multiple delivery drivers. If either the restaurants or drivers leave the platform, there isn’t much to be gained by using the app.

Amazon Sidewalk depends on this very phenomenon where if all your neighbors are on the same platform, you gain seamless connectivity and range. The greater number of bridges in a neighborhood, the better the network becomes. Some of the interesting benefits of this technology include placing devices in the garage or outdoors and still having internet connectivity. This is also compatible with Tile for when you left your keys outdoor and a device called Ring Fetch to alert you when your puppy runs out of bounds.

Amazon Sidewalk
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While this does sound interesting, the obvious next step to track that lost puppy is to tap into the connected Ring cameras from all your neighbors. Amazon still hasn’t disclosed who can access this information and what it can be used for, all we hear is that it is designed to protect your privacy. That means little coming from a company who was recently in the news for having employees listen in on private conversations in front of Echo devices, and view actual footage from Amazon cameras within people’s homes.

Furthermore, the interesting part is that this feature will be auto-enabled on all devices that are compatible when the project goes live. Don’t worry, there is a way to opt-out right now on your Alexa app if you are not comfortable with the whole Big Brother endeavor.

What do you think? Will this technology see massive adoption or will fears of an Orwellian world turn this into another technology bust (like Google Glass). Let us know in the comments.

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