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Amazon Fetch

A new Amazon Fetch among the many products Amazon unveiled at its annual product announcement event Wednesday in Seattle. Amazon wants to help keep track of your dog.

The company showed off a new pet tracking device, called Fetch, at its event in Seattle on 25 September. The device itself is pretty simple; just attach it to your dog’s collar and then set up a geofence around your yard. If your furry friend tries to make a break for it, you’ll get a notification to go track them down. The low-bandwidth protocol behind Fetch is perhaps more interesting.

The device uses a new Sidewalk wireless standard, which was introduced alongside Fetch at the event. Sidewalk lets low-power devices communicate from further away using a low frequency. The positives are that this also allows secure auto-updates for things smart lights, weather sensors, and pet trackers. Amazo hopes it will allow for extended battery life, too.

Amazon Fetch Sidewalk uses 900MHz spectrum, and Amazon says it works over distances up to 500m and even as far as a mile using a network of access points. Amazon says it handed out 700 of the devices to its employees, friends, and family and had the LA Basin completely covered by the network in three weeks.

Amazon wants the secure protocol to be used in low-cost devices ranging from smart lights, to weather sensors, and rain sensors in your mailbox, and hopes that the protocol will allow for devices with exceptionally long battery lives of a year or more. It also has built-in support for auto-updates, to help your devices receive the security updates that they need.

Sidewalk joins a range of wireless standards that are meant for Internet of Things devices, most of which Amazon already uses in some form across its own products. Ring products currently use Z-Wave, Echos use Zigbee, and Eero supports Thread.

Amazon admitted onstage that its new wireless standard is still in its early stages, but said that it’s releasing it today for developers so that it can see what they build for it. The pet-tracking Ring Fetch is coming next year, the company says.

The one downside is that a device like Fetch is a little more dependent on its popularity. The more people around you using Fetch means you’ll be able to track your pet from further away. Amazon said Sidewalk works at a distance of 500 metres, however, so just a handful of people could be using a Fetch device, and it would be enough to track your pet from miles away.

Amazon is releasing the new Sidewalk wireless standard to developers now, but you’ll have to wait to get the Fetch pet tracker, as it won’t be released until 2020. Fetch is a device that clips on to your pet’s collar, and is not itself a connected collar.

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