Understand Alexa Connect Kit

Alexa Connect Kit (ACK) is a managed service that makes it easy to integrate Alexa into your smart products. With ACK, you don't need to write an Alexa skill, manage a cloud service, or develop complex network and security firmware to connect your product to Alexa. Instead, you integrate the ACK module into your product and pay a one-time fixed cost. ACK provides the managed services, software, and tools you can use to develop and manage your Alexa-connected smart products on an ongoing basis. With an ACK-based smart product, your users benefit from Alexa device control and other features, such as Amazon's Wi-Fi simple setup (WSS).

Alexa Connect Kit features

Alexa Connect Kit is a managed solution that enables you to build smart products that are compatible with Alexa. An ACK-based smart product has the following features:

  • Alexa control – Control the smart device with the Alexa app or an Alexa-enabled device, such as an Amazon Echo Dot or an Alexa Built-in device.
  • Alexa companion app support * – Support for your product's custom Alexa companion app. This is an optional feature for commercial manufacturers.
  • Amazon Dash Replenishment Service * – Enable Amazon's Dash Replenishment Service (DRS) for your products. For information about DRS, see Dash Replenishment Service.
  • Logs and metrics * – View logs and metrics for your devices.
  • Over the air firmware updates * – Update ACK module and host microcontroller firmware over the air.
  • Wi-Fi simple setup – Register products with WSS, which is a feature of Amazon's Frustration Free Setup (FFS). WSS makes it easy for your users to register their devices with Amazon and Alexa services. WSS can offer zero-touch setup, barcode registration, and user-guided setup for device registration. For more information about WSS, see Understand Wi-Fi simple setup.

    *Currently available in Developer Preview for commercial manufacturers only.

    In addition to the previous product-specific features, ACK provides an ACK Console to manage and configure your devices.

    The ACK Console enables you to perform the following tasks:

    • View registered ACK devices.
    • View the Alexa capabilities associated with your product.
    • Download resources, such as the ACK Device SDK.

How Alexa Connect Kit works

The following diagram shows the high-level components of an ACK-based smart device:

Components of ACK-based smart device
Components of ACK-based smart device

ACK supports an on-device hardware component called an ACK Module that you purchase from a third-party and integrate into your device. The ACK Module is a Wi-Fi and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) hardware system-on-module that runs Amazon-managed firmware. The ACK Module provides connection to Alexa and the ACK Services and communicates with your device’s host microcontroller unit (HMCU) via universal asynchronous receiver-transmitter (UART).

The HMCU runs your device's application, which handles device-specific logic for your device. The ACK Device SDK provides C source code that you use in your device's HMCU application. The ACK Device SDK provides the link between your device's HMCU and the ACK Module.

Components of an ACK-based smart device

The following list shows the high-level components of Alexa Connect Kit:

ACK Console – The ACK Console enables you to configure and manage your ACK-based products and devices. With the ACK Console, you can view registered devices and download resources, such as the ACK Device SDK. Currently certain features, such as the ability to create virtual products and manage Alexa capabilities for your product, are available in Developer Preview for commercial manufacturers only.

Alexa-enabled device or Alexa app – An ACK-based device relies on the Alexa app or an Alexa-enabled device, such as an Amazon Echo Dot, to enable Alexa voice interaction and device control by the user.

ACK Managed Services – ACK managed services provide partner and product-specific functionality, such as maintaining the capabilities supported by your product and storing logs and metrics generated by your product for review.

Alexa Services – Alexa services convert user utterances into directives, support WSS, and provide access to other Alexa capabilities and features. These are not specific to ACK.

The following list shows the high-level components of an ACK-based smart device:

ACK-based smart device - A smart device that can connect to Alexa and ACK services via the ACK module.

  • ACK Module – An Amazon-managed system-on-a-module that you integrate into your device. The ACK module runs Amazon-managed firmware that provides connection with Alexa and the ACK managed services, and connection with your device’s host microcontroller unit (HMCU) via universal asynchronous receiver-transmitter (UART).
  • HMCU – The device's HMCU runs the device's HMCU application.
  • HMCU Application – The HMCU application runs the device-specific logic that governs device behavior.

    You can use sample applications in the ACK Device SDK as a basis for your device’s own HMCU application.

    • ACK Device SDK – C source code for your device's HMCU application, available as a resource for download from the ACK Console Resources.

      The ACK Device SDK has two main components:

      • HMCU Implementation Core – The implementation core communicates between your HMCU application and the ACK module. The implementation core handles device registration, life cycle management, device state changes, and Alexa directives and events.

      • Sample applications – The sample applications represent different types of products with unique Alexa capabilities and functions, such as a smart light or ceiling fan.

  • Additional MCUs and peripheral hardware – Your ACK-based smart device might use one or more additional microcontroller units (MCUs) and peripheral hardware.

Alexa Smart Home capabilities for your product

The Smart Home Skill API defines the different Alexa capabilities that your smart product can support. The Smart Home capability interfaces describe a device's behavior and functionality. Each smart product has associated Alexa capabilities. For example, a smart light product will probably use the PowerController and BrightnessController capabilities. For more information about the Alexa Smart Home Skill API, see Understand the Smart Home Skill API.

The following table shows the Alexa Smart Home capability interfaces currently supported by ACK.

Interface Function
Alexa.BrightnessController Controls the brightness of a device such as a smart light bulb.
Alexa.ColorController* Changes the color of a device, such as a color-changing light bulb.
Alexa.ColorTemperatureController* Controls the color temperature of a device that supports tunable white light.
Alexa.Cooking* Controls cooking functions on cooking appliances.
Select functions of Alexa.Cooking and related Alexa.Cooking capability interfaces are supported.
Alexa.ModeController Controls the mode settings of a device, such as fan speed.
Alexa.PercentageController* Controls properties of a device that can expressed in percentage. For example, a smart light bulb set to 20% brightness.
Alexa.PowerController Controls and reports on the power state of a device.
Alexa.RangeController* Controls the settings of a device that correspond with a minimum and maximum range. For example, a fan with range settings from 1-10.
Alexa.TimeHoldController* Pauses a time value of a device. For example, to pause an oven while it is cooking.
Alexa.ToggleController* Toggles a device setting that can be toggled on or off. For example, toggle a fan's oscillation mode.

*Currently available in Developer Preview for commercial manufacturers only

How a user interacts with your ACK-based smart device

When a user says "Alexa, turn on my kitchen light," the Alexa service interprets the user utterance and sends a Alexa.PowerController TurnOn directive to the ACK service, which routes it to the ACK module. The ACK module forwards the directive to the HMCU. The device's HMCU application receives it using functionality provided by the ACK Device SDK, and device-specific logic turns the light on. The device's HMCU application lets the ACK Device SDK know it has processed the directive, which causes an Alexa.Response event to be sent back to Alexa.

Prototype with the USI Development Kit for ACK

To make it easy to prototype your ACK-based smart device, the USI Development Kit for ACK is available for purchase on Amazon.com. The USI Development Kit for ACK comes with a sample HMCU and development board with an integrated ACK module. You upload an ACK Device SDK sample application to the development kit's HMCU, and then connect the development kit to Alexa and ACK services. You then control the development device with the Alexa app or an Alexa-enabled device, such as an Amazon Echo dot.

When you register the development kit with Alexa, the ACK Console enables you to manage your devices and products. You can also view device information, such as Alexa capabilities and device registration status. Extended ACK console functionality is available in Developer Preview for commercial manufacturers only.

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