During Alexa Live 2022, we elaborated on our vision for the ambient home: we believe that the future of the smart home is one that bridges and highlights the value of a non-homogeneous array of devices and services from many different companies and brands, all working together for the customer’s benefit.
Customers have connected over 300 million smart home devices to Alexa, from smart lighting to thermostats, cameras, robotic vacuums, locks and so much more. The smart home experiences enabled by device makers help to make customers’ lives easier, more sustainable, productive and secure.
However, as Dave Limp, SVP of Devices & Services for Amazon pointed out, we aren’t close to done yet. We are still years away from making our vision of the ambient home a reality — and the announcements we made today at Alexa Live represent important milestones in that direction.
From Matter support to new APIs and features for developers, there's a lot to unpack. Here are the highlights and key takeaways from our most important announcements.
Matter is launching later this year with the aim of making it easier for smart home devices to interoperate with each other, simplifying development for you, and increasing compatibility for your customers. Some of you may already be planning to build new Matter devices, or to update existing ones to support Matter. With Amazon, device makers will have a richer feature set and flexible capabilities to develop differentiated products with Matter.
Making it easier to build Matter devices with Alexa Connect Kit SDK for Matter
We are excited to announce that a new version of the Alexa Connect Kit SDK will support Matter over WiFi.
Alexa Connect Kit SDK for Matter is a new software package that brings the benefits of ACK’s managed services to Matter devices. Devices connected to Alexa or any Matter compatible smart home assistant using ACK SDK for Matter can deliver the increased interoperability of Matter to customers, while also providing device makers with the added benefits of cloud connectivity features to build differentiated products — without managing cloud services or even creating a skill. These features include over-the-air (OTA) updates for device lifecycle management, logs and metrics. And, with a low one-time upfront fee to cover cloud services for the device’s lifetime, device makers will have more cost certainty with less complexity.
The cloud connection enabled by ACK SDK for Matter will provide you with the added flexibility to manage software updates without being reliant on any Matter Admins, allowing you to maintain control over your brand and customer experience. In addition, leading industry providers such as Leedarson, Espressif, and Innotech have committed to build ACK SDK solutions for Matter devices to simplify the integration and certification process, and speed up your time to market.
ACK SDK for Matter is a great example of how building with Alexa enables you to choose the best product development path to support your business, with options ranging from fully managed services to developing in an “a la carte” way.
Create a seamless setup experience with Frustration-Free Setup for Matter
38% of respondents from a recent Statista study reported setup frustration as one of their top barriers to adopting smart home technology. With Frustration-Free Setup (FFS), customers can add WiFi, BLE Mesh and Zigbee based smart home devices with a zero-touch experience, where devices are automatically connected to the network and ready to use as soon as the device is powered on.
We are excited to bring our FFS technology, an experience customers love, to Matter devices later this year. But you don’t have to wait to get started, as all of the source code needed to start integrating Frustration-Free Setup for Matter over WiFi and Matter over Thread devices is already included in the Matter SDK.
Earlier this year we announced Matter support for silicon vendors with NXP, Nordic, Silicon Labs, Texas Instruments, Realtek, Espressif and Beken. This support means you can use pre-configured and pre-certified components from these vendors to build Matter devices that support Frustration-Free Setup to simplify development and accelerate time to market.
Many partners, including Sengled and TP-Link who already leverage Frustration-Free Setup with other protocols, are building this new feature into their Matter devices. Leading smart home device makers like Eve Systems, Leedarson, and Nanoleaf will be enabling Frustration-Free Setup for their new Matter over Thread devices.
Expanding retailer support for Frustration-Free Setup
We are excited to share that in addition to customers being able to enjoy the benefits of FFS on devices purchased through Amazon, we will be expanding FFS so customers can enjoy these benefits when purchasing devices through other retailers. This means customers will be able to experience the joy of your products right away, regardless of where the device was purchased. Device makers who support FFS will be able to take advantage of the increased availability of this simplified setup experience without any additional development work. Amazon will start by bringing this support to Matter devices, and then expand availability to other Frustration-Free Setup devices in the future.
Commissionable Endpoint API
The Matter specification includes a feature called “Multi-Admin” which allows Matter devices to be controlled by multiple smart home systems at the same time. This means that customers no longer need to choose a single system to control smart home devices in their home.
Today, many devices get setup first using a custom app. Sometimes the app is developed by the device maker, or a smart home system company, such as a home security vendor or a lighting system. These apps often provide value to customers by highlighting specific features, helping the customer with device configuration or performing service enablement.
As we expect this trend to continue for many Matter devices, we have introduced the Commissionable Endpoint API. This API gives the customer, with their consent, an effortless way to add Alexa as an additional Matter Administrator to a device that is already set up by one of the methods described above. There’s no need to write down or remember setup codes, switch between apps, or ask customers to monitor a process before it times out. Commissionable Endpoint can be used to connect Echo devices locally to any Matter-enabled devices that your skill manages, including Hubs and Bridges. Further, with Matter, voice interactions with Alexa have lower latency and you can control your connected smart home devices even when the internet is down.
Commissionable Endpoint is a great solution for device makers who have their own cloud, and for smart home service providers who are looking for a simple way to enable voice control of Matter devices through Alexa.
API for Multi-Admin Simple Setup for Matter
Customers may want to connect to Alexa first and then use other apps and services to control their device, tapping into the Matter promise of multi-admin support.
To give you and your customers more flexibility, Amazon will make it easy to add your app or smart home service as an additional Matter admin using a cloud-based API to enable multi-admin simple setup for Matter. This feature is similar to the Commissionable Endpoint API — however, the commissioning flow occurs in the opposite direction, still with customer permission required to enable the skill. The API for multi-admin simple setup for Matter will provide customers with a simple and hassle-free way to connect their preferred Matter Admins to their Matter devices.
API for Credentials
As part of our efforts to further simplify setup, we will launch an API for credentials, enabling customers that opt-in to share their network credentials with Alexa and your apps and services. Customers can then select which of their devices and service providers they share their network details with, and set up their devices easily without having to manually enter their network credentials. The API for credentials will first support Thread credentials for Matter devices with additional support expected to follow later.
Customers use Alexa hundreds of millions of times each week to control smart home devices. In fact, more than 30% of smart home interactions are initiated by Alexa — without customers saying anything — thanks to ambient features like Alexa Guard, Routines, and Hunches. We know customers want a smart home that seamlessly works together to help them save time, live comfortably, and save energy.
With that in mind, today we announced the Alexa Ambient Home Dev Kit – a new set of services and APIs that extends a variety of Alexa features to developers, empowering them to build a more unified ambient smart home experience for customers.
From “Connect and Control” to “Share and Innovate”
The Alexa Ambient Home Dev Kit marks an important evolution in our approach to the connected home, and represents a shift from merely connecting your devices to Alexa to actively innovating together by leveraging Alexa's features. After customers provide their permission, you can use the APIs included in the Alexa Ambient Home Dev Kit to provide new experiences within your own service and extend your offerings with Alexa.
With experiences enabled by the Alexa Ambient Home Dev Kit, the devices and services in a customer’s smart home can work together to create a more ambient home experience based on the home’s state.
For example, if a customer leaves home and arms their security system, they want their robot vacuum to know they’re gone so it can start cleaning. If they open their smart lights app and rename Guest Room to Office, they want that change to cascade to other systems – including Alexa. The Alexa Ambient Home Dev Kit will enable these experiences along with many more.
The APIs for credentials and multi-admin simple setup for Matter described above will also be available as part of the Alexa Ambient Home Dev Kit. In addition, the Alexa Ambient Home Dev Kit will initially contain three more APIs. All of which are cloud-based APIs that are designed to be flexible, allowing you to maximize your development effort. With Alexa Ambient Home Dev Kit you can use these flexible cloud-based APIs to provide customers with new value-added features more easily regardless of the mobile OS or connectivity protocol you use to connect devices to Alexa.
1. Safety and Security
Security is one of the most popular and fastest-growing use cases for smart home. Our APIs for safety and security extend Alexa Guard’s features to give developers and service providers more ways to build and enhance safety features in their apps and services.
Customers will be able to leverage intelligent signals from Echo devices to expand safety and security coverage to more spaces in the home. For example, customers can be alerted through Alexa or your own app when Echo devices detect audible smoke and carbon monoxide alarms or the sound of glass breaking while they are out running errands.
2. Device and Group Organization
To create a more unified smart home, we want to make the customer experience more synchronized between Alexa and your apps. The APIs for device and group sync frees customers from spending time manually replicating their device groups or rooms across multiple apps. For example, when customers create a new device group named Kitchen Lights within your app, the Kitchen Lights group will automatically appear in the Alexa app, and customers can use voice commands to turn the Kitchen Lights on or off right away.
3. Home State
The ambient home that we envision learns to respond to customers’ actions, enabled by intelligent signals from Alexa and your devices. With the APIs for home state, customers can opt-in to help you learn more about their desired states within their home. These states can include “Home”, “Vacation, ”Dinner Time“, or ”Sleep“ and keep modes synced between Alexa and your devices and services to deliver a unified experience. Imagine a smart home that knows to go into ”Sleep“ mode to achieve your customer's preferred state of optimal comfort and peace of mind when heading to bed for the night. Now in ”Sleep“ mode, the thermostat automatically adjusts the air conditioning, any unlocked doors are locked, and the back porch light is turned off if accidentally left on — with the Alexa Ambient Home Dev Kit, that vision can become a reality.
Today in an Alexa household, customers can use Alexa for voice control, use your app to access advanced functions, and leverage features like Routines, Guard and Hunches to help them live safe, secure and productive lives. Going forward, they will be able to enjoy the ambient home that you build with Alexa Ambient Home Dev Kit together with Alexa.
Learn more about the Alexa Ambient Home Dev Kit.
Quality, reliability, and growth with Alexa
Beyond the products we can build together, we can also help you grow your business. The Works with Alexa program and badge help customers easily find your devices which have been tested, ensuring they get a quality smart home product that works great with Alexa. Today there are more than 30,000 Works with Alexa Certified products available on Amazon.com, where since 2020, Works with Alexa device makers have sold over 125 million devices world-wide.
Works with Alexa continues to be a trusted certification program that raises the bar on responsiveness, reliability, product quality, and tested interoperability with Alexa. To ensure customers continue to have great smart home experiences, we will extend the Works with Alexa certification to Matter over WiFi and Matter over Thread devices.
Customers will benefit from help and education on what they need to fully take advantage of Matter's benefits. The Works with Alexa badge and widget on amazon.com will tell customers if Echo devices they've already purchased will work with your Matter devices. This will help ensure a successful setup experience, and customers will be less likely to return devices.
Works with Alexa certification also creates additional co-marketing opportunities, such as bundles, promotions on Prime Day and pop-ups.
Let’s build the ambient home together
None of us can deliver on our customers’ expectations for the ambient smart home alone. This vision can only be realized by all of us working together. Amazon is committed to helping you continue to succeed on a number of fronts — from product development to differentiated go-to-market experiences that fit your business model, to flexible development paths with the technology that you prefer. We can’t wait to develop the next generation of ambient experiences with you for our collective customers in homes around the world.