Integrating your devices with Alexa requires you to determine how you’ll connect your device to Alexa and which capabilities you’ll expose. If you connect using the internet, you’ll create an Alexa skill using the Smart Home Skill API in the Alexa Skills Kit and a cloud-based service for communicating with your device.
You can connect smart devices to Alexa using the internet and a Smart Home Skill or using Echo Plus or a third-party hub. By connecting through the internet, you enable nearly any customer with an Echo or other Alexa-enabled endpoint to control your devices with no other hardware required.
By connecting using Echo Plus or a third-party hub, you can simplify setup for customers who own those devices. When you connect in this way, you do not write a smart home skill; instead, you conform to the manufacturer’s specifications. Echo Plus uses the ZigBee Home Automation 1.2 application profile.
If you connect your smart device to Alexa using the internet, you’ll need to design a smart home skill. Alexa will send directives to your skill when a customer speaks a smart home command, and may send requests to discover new devices or determine device status.
Your skill can expose any device capability defined in the Smart Home Skill API, and must be able to communicate with your device via the internet. You will also provide a separate cloud service, or device cloud, to map customers to devices. Both your skill and your device cloud should be designed to be resilient to failures and to be able to handle the expected load as usage of your devices increases.