Scott Waller was a systems engineer and network architect at Cisco and Microsoft. His inspiration came from his experience as a volunteer firefighter and avalanche coach. He founded an Internet of things startup.
Thingy LLC, headquartered in Bellevue, Washington., Develop and integrate environmental sensor systems to assess different aspects of air quality and provide important information to farmers, firefighters and others.
Waller and thingy’s co-founder Andrew smallridge knew they had something to gain when they won $25000 in the EPA’s Wasteland fire sensor challenge in 2018. They worked in the garage for six months, ranking second only to the Carnegie Mellon University team who has been developing technology for many years.
After leaving Cisco in 2019, Waller is now the CEO of thingy. The startup receives funding from research grants and revenue from building and integrating sensor systems for a variety of customers. The environment here ranges from vineyards to hillsides, but there is a challenge that almost everyone faces.
“When you’re in the middle of nowhere, connectivity is hard,” Waller said
This is one of the reasons Waller is interested in Amazon’s expansion of the sidewalk network. Thingy is one of the two partners highlighted by the technology giant when it announced the launch of the new pedestrian bridge Pro by ring last week. Ring is a business center designed to expand the sidewalk network from communities to more urban and remote areas. (Arizona State University is another.)
Thingy’s proof of concept will use the sidewalk bridge professional edition to provide connectivity to its air quality monitoring equipment, which can predict wasteland and jungle fires and provide data to the first responder.
Amazon said in a statement: “in view of the limitations of Wi Fi and mobile data in these areas, thingy will start testing with Amazon sidewalk bridge professional edition, using Lora (remote) telemetry technology to send data to and from thingy aq.”. “This work is expected to significantly improve the connectivity of thingy AQ and help protect public land, homes, vineyards and farms from catastrophic damage.”
Amazon’s larger goal is to use the sidewalk bridge professional edition to expand the community network created when the company launched the sidewalk last year.
In its current neighbor avatar, the sidewalk uses Amazon customers’ echo devices as connection points to create a neighbor network for devices such as outdoor lights and pet trackers. By default, ring and echo devices are selected into the network, which has always been a controversial topic. (the following is how to choose to exit.)
Sidewalk bridge professional promises to expand the network not only for the commercial users who deploy it, but also for individual users who use these consumer applications and devices. For example, if a dog gets lost in a park or forest where bridge Pro is deployed wearing a sidewalk compatible tracker, the network will also allow the dog to locate in these settings.
Why not use cellular networks directly? Waller explained that even where reliable mobile services are available, the cost can be too high.
“When you deal with scientists, environmental monitoring, agriculture and farmers, they don’t want to spend a lot of money on a platform. They just want you to solve their problems,” Waller said.
He explained that for potential business users, another advantage of sidewalk is that it can connect Amazon Internet service IOT and other widely used cloud services provided by Seattle technology.
However, the specificity of Amazon’s implementation is a potential obstacle to widespread adoption. Amazon launched the personal version of Lora for sidewalk instead of the cooperative version of lorawan specification.
Another disadvantage is the cost of the professional version of the sidewalk bridge, which has not been announced by Amazon. The equipment has not been approved by the FCC and has not been sold.
This is not a solution for rural broadband. IOT devices usually send and receive small packets rather than high-resolution images, videos or other large files related to traditional home or work Internet use.
An interesting possibility is that Amazon will deploy sidewalk bridge professional version or some variants in its performance center and distribution center to expand the network for others in the process. The company has not publicly indicated that it plans to do so, but it is not difficult to imagine.
While Waller cooperated with Amazon for proof of concept, he has been paying attention to and choosing, because he knows that there will not be only one way to finally connect the device.
“Sustainability, environmental monitoring and addressing connectivity issues are difficult,” he said. “Sidewalks are just a way. I’ll talk to satellite experts tomorrow.”