In September, we launched the general availability of Alexa Connect Kit (ACK) to enable device makers to connect devices to the Internet and Alexa using an Amazon-managed hardware module. With ACK, you don’t need to manage cloud services, create an Alexa skill, or write complex connectivity and security firmware. Today, we are excited to announce expanded self-service prototyping functionality with ACK. Now you can get your connected product to market even faster, reducing the time needed to prototype your product's Alexa voice and mobile app experience to just hours. Using ACK self-service prototyping tools you can easily create a virtual product, define its Alexa capabilities, and test your device's customer experience with Alexa.
When you add the Amazon-managed ACK module to your device, your customers get Alexa control in the Alexa app, and Wi-Fi simple setup. You can also choose to add the ability to support automatic reordering (Dash Replenishment Service) of consumables your product needs to keep running at its best, such as air-filters or coffee pods. The ACK module also stays up to date with silent, over-the-air firmware updates, and ACK’s managed cloud service meets the cloud reliability requirements of the Works with Alexa (WWA) certification program. After your device is certified, you can feature the WWA badge in the Amazon Smart Home Store and on product packaging, increasing customer confidence that your devices integrate seamlessly with Alexa.
To get started, purchase a development kit and visit our documentation guide on steps to prototype a product with ACK.
With ACK, you can make nearly any device a smart device while reducing development time and costs. Building with ACK gives you the advantages of:
This tutorial outlines the steps to create an Alexa Connect Kit (ACK) product prototype, using the example of a Smart Plug. First, the tutorial will provide an overview of what you need before you start prototyping a connected device. Then you will learn how to create and provision your ACK module as a virtual product in the ACK console and define the Alexa capabilities that your product will support. Finally, you will learn how to edit your virtual product in order to customize your prototype. Once completed, you will be able to test your prototype on your hardware and control it with the Alexa app.
To start building with Alexa Connect Kit, you will need a Development Kit or a printed circuit board assembly with an integrated ACK module. You can purchase a USI Development Kit for ACK on Amazon.com. The USI Development Kit for Alexa Connect Kit comes with a custom development board and integrated ACK module, an Arduino Zero development board, which represents a host microcontroller unit (HMCU), and a few other items. Once you have the Development Kit, you will need to complete the Get Started Guide: USI Development Kit.
Product creation takes 20-25 minutes to complete. You'll see a banner in the products page while product creation is in progress.
Refresh the page to determine if product creation is complete. Once the virtual product is created, you will see a Success confirmation.
Next you’ll need to provision your ACK module as a virtual product via ACK managed services. ACK managed services provide partner and device-specific functionalities, such as Alexa capability management, and logging and metrics for your devices. Use the Module Utility command line interface (CLI) to provision your ACK module as your virtual product. To provision the module, you will use the provision command which moves the module state from module provisioned to product provisioned (see our documentation with Steps to Provision a Module). There are 4 steps to provisioning your ACK module:
Download your product’s configuration file:
$ java -jar <path-to>/ackmoduleutility.jar provision -p <serial-port> --provisionconfigfile <path-to>/ProvisioningInfo.conf
Generate a barcode for product registration:
ACK supports Amazon's Wi-Fi Simple Setup to make it easy for your users to register their devices with Amazon and Alexa services. In this step you’ll generate a barcode for your ACK module that enables registration through Wi-Fi Simple Setup.
Now that you’ve provisioned your device, it’s time to define your product’s capabilities. Alexa capabilities define the utterances your customers use with your product, as well as the Alexa app control page they interact with.
Here are some example products and associated Alexa smart home capabilities and utterances. To see more examples, review the Smart Home Skill Device Templates.
Use the JSON editor on your virtual product page to declare the Alexa capabilities that your product supports. By default, a virtual product comes with the PowerController capability. Each type of product has a number of recommended capabilities, but you can add whichever supported Alexa capabilities that you want.
To update your product’s Alexa capabilities:
Update your smart home capabilities:
After customizing your product capabilities you can register your development kit with Alexa and try it out using voice and the Alexa mobile app. To register you'll scan the barcode you generated earlier in the tutorial.
How to register your device: