At CES 2024, we are showcasing how the world's leading brands are building with Amazon's devices and services, and leveraging the latest innovations in artificial intelligence to build the next generation of ambient experiences. This article is part of a series that showcases select brands on display at the Amazon Experience Area at CES 2024.
Manny Linhares is the senior director of product management and strategy at Legrand, a global leader in electrical and digital building infrastructures. In this role, Linhares oversees all elements of the company’s efforts to design and develop wiring devices, lighting controls, connected products for power, light, and data applications in commercial and residential markets.
Legrand’s North and Central American division develops the next generation of experiences in a broad range of business categories, from audio-visual products and building control systems to data center power control, lighting, and electrical wiring systems. In recent years, Linhares’ team has been focused on upgrading more traditional devices to connected ones by enabling them with features like cloud connectivity and support for multiple wireless protocols. Recently, Legrand decided to integrate the Alexa Connect Kit (ACK) for Matter into their in-wall electrical products.
Building smart home devices with a great customer experience can be challenging. It requires device makers to have deep expertise in multiple wireless protocols, complex cloud connectivity, and the necessary maintenance of cloud infrastructure. The Alexa Connect Kit (ACK) made it simpler for device makers to address these challenges with a fully-managed service.
In 2022, Amazon announced the Alexa Connect Kit for Matter, allowing device makers to benefit from the advantages of ACK while also being able to connect products to Alexa or other Matter-compatible smart home assistants and deliver the advantages of increased interoperability to their customers.
In this conversation, Linhares spoke about the reasons the company decided to integrate ACK for Matter, the development journey, and his vision for the future of ambient computing.
Why did Legrand USA decide to integrate ACK for Matter for your in-wall electrical products?
At Legrand, we are always looking to be at the forefront of building the next generation of wiring devices, and interoperability is absolutely a big part of what we wanted to enable for customers. Our vision for the smart home is one where customers are able to use our products with other smart products or devices to work in whatever setting they want.
Customers shouldn’t have to worry about which voice assistant they need to use. They shouldn’t have to install separate smart home apps for each device in their home. Matter allows us to offer customers the ability to buy any smart home device and set it up with any voice assistant without having to worry about compatibility.
As a bonus, collaborating with Amazon for Matter allowed us to leverage differentiated features. We’re excited about things like Frustration-Free Setup that allows customers to add Matter devices with a zero-touch experience, and Commissionable Endpoint API creates a local, Matter-based connection to Alexa devices.
In addition to the interoperability made possible for our customers, and the differentiated features enabled by the collaboration with Amazon, integrating ACK for Matter also helped us get to market on time and launch products in less than a year. Timeliness was an important factor for us, and building with ACK with Matter allowed us to go from concept to launch in less than a year.
Can you speak a bit about the development journey? Why did ACK for Matter make it easier?
I touched briefly on how ACK for Matter equipped us with features like cloud connectivity, cloud management, over-the-air (OTA) updates for device lifecycle management, logs, and metrics right out of the box. When we reviewed the samples for our wiring devices from manufacturing, everything just worked. ACK for Matter allowed us to go to market with quality devices without making compromises on quality.
In addition, we could work with a centralized team at Amazon to work on ACK development, and that really helped. We didn’t have to worry about researching and reaching out to different brands for chip manufacturers and system integrators. The ACK team at Amazon made these introductions for us.
As a result, we didn’t have to devote valuable internal resources to thinking about every nuance of building connected products. Instead, we were able to focus on doing what we do best – building great products that look great in their environment. With our ACK for Matter integration, we can assure customers that they can expect the same high quality they’ve come to expect from Legrand. For example, they can buy a designer switch from our award-winning Radiant collection and know that it will look great paired with our wall plates and work seamlessly with other smart home products in their home.
As an industry leader with a sustained track record of innovation, what is your vision for the future of the smart home?
Virtual assistants like Alexa have made setting up and managing smart home devices incredibly easy for customers and have accelerated the evolution of the smart home. They’ve enabled customers to do things like change the ambient temperature or turn on the lights simply by using their voice. As voice assistants become even more intelligent, we expect this trend to accelerate and continue.
There are three ways in which I see the smart home continuing to evolve. The first is that customers will be able to customize their smart home a lot more. There will be a lot more devices working seamlessly with each other. The end result of this increased interoperability will be that customers will have a much better user experience in their homes.
Secondly, I also see that the home will evolve into a state where smart home features are going to extend deeper into the home. What I mean here is that the smart home as a whole will do a much better job of understanding the state of the home. As a result, customers will be able to do things like getting the thermostat to turn down the temperature automatically when it senses the door is locked and no one is home. The home will proactively understand the state of the home in profoundly deeper ways and make environments more secure, efficient, and more fulfilling for people.
Finally, smart home technology will be far more effective in helping us decarbonize. The system can do things like understand how much water you consume, how fast your home heats up or cools down, if you get into a work mode when you enter your office, and act in a way that reduces your carbon footprint in meaningful ways."