At CES 2022, Amazon highlighted a wide range of features that demonstrated the company’s commitment to create new and differentiated experiences for devices built for the Matter protocol.
These announcements included the launch of Frustration-Free Setup for Matter, which makes setting up Matter devices simple by allowing eligible customers to onboard their devices within minutes, without the need to enter network passwords or Matter setup codes. In keeping with the objective of simplifying device setup, Amazon also announced the launch of Commissionable Endpoint. The feature creates a ‘zero-touch’ Matter connection to Alexa for devices that have already been set up through the device makers’ app, or via other popular smart home services.
Ritu Jain is a technical leader on the team that developed the Alexa Commissionable Endpoint feature. During her seven-year career at Amazon, Ritu contributed to the launch of AWS IoT, built foundational services for Alexa’s connected devices, and enabled various features on Amazon Echo devices, that among other improvements, allow for offline control of locally connected devices. Most recently, she has been leading the design for simplifying the setup of Matter devices with Alexa.
Ritu has a track record of displaying an entrepreneurial spirit throughout her career: when she took a break from full-time employment following the birth of her daughter, she set up a professional services company, and developed an e-learning platform targeted towards the Indian market.
In this interview, Ritu talks about why Amazon developed Commissionable Endpoint, how developers can leverage the feature to gain a competitive edge, and how developers can boost customer engagement by partnering with Amazon.
Why did Amazon develop the Commissionable Endpoint feature?
The Commissionable Endpoint feature allows customers to easily control their Matter devices locally with Alexa, even in situations where they don’t have Internet connectivity. In situations like these, Alexa knows there are multiple paths to the same device - via the cloud or the local network - and chooses the right path based on the interaction, and the state of connectivity for each path.
Let me give you an example of how this works: Let’s say a customer has a thermostat from a manufacturer like Resideo or a Matter hub from Philips Hue. The customer may set up their device directly using the manufacturer’s app. To control the thermostat or hub with Alexa, they can enable the manufacturer’s skill, where control requests are routed for execution.
When this happens, the skill will report the thermostat or hub, along with its capabilities to Alexa. If the skill supports the Commissionable Endpoint feature, one of the reported capabilities will be the Alexa.Commissionable capability. Alexa will then reach out to the skill with a directive called ‘ReportCommissioningInformation.’ After receiving this directive, the skill or partner cloud reaches out to the Matter device to put it into commissioning mode using a Matter API called ‘OpenCommissioningWindow.’
This in turn, returns a new ManualPairingCode (as defined in the Matter specification) to Alexa in the directive response, which prompts Alexa to commission the device on its Matter fabric using the new ManualPairingCode. Now, since the thermostat is connected locally with Alexa, the customer can benefit from faster connectivity during normal operations, and more resilient control in the event of network outages or skill unavailability.
This might seem complicated, but it’s important to note that all these steps happen automatically in the background. By simplifying device setup, and removing the need to pair their devices manually with multiple admins, Commissionable Endpoint solves an important pain point for customers.
Why should developers integrate Commissionable Endpoint?
There are two reasons I would encourage developers, device makers, and service providers to integrate Commissionable Endpoint.
The first has to do with ensuring a great customer experience. Customers can effortlessly add Alexa as a Matter administrator. Customer obsession has been a guiding philosophy across all our businesses at Amazon, and we want to partner with developers in making it simpler for customers to set up and manage their smart home devices.
Commissionable Endpoint enables customers to connect their devices to Alexa locally. Local control makes for faster response times which we know customers are looking for. In addition, local control allows customers to control their devices with Alexa during network outages. Even if a partner’s Smart Home skill is experiencing an outage, with Commissionable EndPoint customers will remain unimpacted by the outage.
How does this feature help developers to be successful in the smart home segment?
We fundamentally believe that the smart home is not homogenous, and customers will adopt devices and services from many different companies and brands. We want to help customers set up all of these devices more easily. Customers tell us that is what they are looking for. We invested in features like Frustration Free Setup and Commissionable Endpoint to do exactly that. We know ease of set up is an important indicator of usage and hence I expect these features will lead to higher value for developers.
We made it simple to integrate Commissionable Endpoint by just adding support for one more capability, Alexa.Commissionable to your existing Smart Home Skill. Please visit the Alexa developer portal to begin the implementation of Commissionable Endpoint for your Matter devices.