Alexa Connect Kit (ACK) enables Sengled to quickly build and launch a Matter-compatible smart bulb

Sanjeev Sridharan Jun 30, 2024
Smart Home Matter Support


Sengled, a global leader in smart lighting, has used the Alexa Connect Kit (ACK) to build a smart bulb and quickly achieve commercial availability. We interviewed Doug Thomas, Director of Retail Sales, and Dr. Chenyang Liu, VP of Product Development to learn more about how the company has used ACK to bring state-of-the-art products to market in a timely and cost-effective way. 

Sengled: Offering easy-to-use, versatile, and brilliant lighting solutions

Sengled’s mission is to be the leading smart light expert, dedicated to illuminating smarter living for customers around the world. It is a recognized innovator in this space as evidenced by its $140M+ investment in Research and Development (R&D) from 2013-2021, 300+ R&D engineers, 1100+ global patents, and 20+ innovation awards. 

The company’s offerings are anchored on three pillars: 1) Offering customers an easy setup experience, 2) Providing them with a variety of interoperable lighting options that adhere to different smart home protocols, 3) Enhancing the lighting experience by focusing on features such as high lumens (brightness) and color rendering index (color rendering accuracy). 

Sengled’s work in smart lighting led to a collaboration with Amazon Alexa, which also shared its value of offering customers a seamless connected experience through support for multiple protocols such as Wi-Fi, BLE Mesh, Zigbee, Matter, and Thread. When the vision for Matter was introduced, Sengled embraced the new standard and became an early member of the Matter working group. It became one of the first companies to build a Matter compatible smart bulb using ACK SDK for Matter. 

Advantages of ACK

Developing products for a new protocol such as Matter is time-consuming and resource-heavy and requires expertise in wireless protocols, cloud connectivity, networking, and security firmware. ACK makes it simpler for device makers to build smart home devices at a fixed per-device cost without worrying about developing an Alexa skill, managing a cloud service, or developing complex network and security firmware.

ACK devices support Alexa, Google Home, Apple HomeKit, and Samsung Smarthings via Matter, thus enabling device makers to build products that can easily connect to many smart assistants. Sengled was able to stay true to its three core values because ACK enabled it to build an easy-to-use Matter compatible smart bulb in an optimal manner, freeing up its resources to focus on enhancing the features of the bulb. 

Saving development time and resources

With ACK SDK for Matter, Sengled was able to leverage turn key solutions with ready-made application code and Wi-Fi module hardware designs. It worked with a chip vendor called Espressif to develop the firmware for its smart bulb. Espressif chips are pre-programmed with the ACK module firmware and are also pre-provisioned, having the necessary credentials that make it connect to an ACK-managed cloud service. This outsourcing of firmware development reduced development time by 33%, and saved one firmware and hardware engineering full-time employee (FTE) each while enabling Sengled to quickly bring the bulb to market.

“The whole development time is quite short,” said Dr. Liu. “If we developed the firmware by ourselves, it would have probably taken us 9 months from design to mass production. With ACK, we didn’t have to worry about the firmware, so, we brought development time down to 6 months.”

Simpler setup for consumers

Using ACK to build a smart product ensures that all the functionalities a device would need to obtain Amazon’s Frustration-Free Setup (FFS) certification are available without device makers having to configure custom code or SDKs into their devices. FFS is a program that helps device makers incorporate technology to make device setup as easy for customers as opening a box and powering on a device. Sengled has built its smart bulb in an optimal manner using ACK, which in turn has enabled it to cut FFS certification times from as long as four months to one month (75%). This FFS certification offers consumers the confidence that they will have a simple setup experience.

Device setup is the first consumer interaction with a device, and a sub-optimal experience could impact not only the perception of the product but also the company, and smart home as a category. A positive setup experience on the other hand improves the device connection rate and customer satisfaction while reducing setup related queries to customer service call centers. For Sengled, setup related queries constitute 30-40% of all inbounds calls and could represent significant savings. Once setup with Alexa, consumers can conveniently use voice commands to control the lights, such as adjusting brightness or colors, creating groups to control multiple lights at once, and developing routines to automate on/off schedules. 

“Utilizing FFS allows customers to have an extremely easy set up process and a great experience getting started with our products, leading to a long-lasting relationship between them and Sengled,” said Thomas. 

Focus on delivering a differentiated and superior customer experience

ACK enabled Sengled to focus on providing a rich set of lighting features. The bulb’s 800 lumens makes it brighter than many bulbs with the same wattage, but at 9 watts, has a reduced environmental impact, saving up to 85% of energy usage without losing brightness or color quality. In addition, device level metrics enabled by ACK SDK for Matter provides Sengled with enhanced troubleshooting capabilities and insights to identify opportunities for new features and update existing ones. ACK SDK for Matter’s cloud connection also enables Sengled to directly issue over-the-air (OTA) updates, and manage the software update process without being reliant on other Matter Admins, allowing it to maintain control over the customer experience.

Amazon’s support to reach customers at scale and grow the business

Amazon offered support to Sengled throughout the product lifecycle – from introducing ACK, putting Sengled in touch with Espressif, answering questions during the development process, sharing marketing best practices such as optimal detail page product descriptions, and promotions plans to boost traffic and sales. Since the smart bulb launch in July 2023, Sengled has worked with Amazon to bundle it along with Amazon’s Echo devices during the holiday season which resulted in an exponential growth in sales. 

Amazon really kept the projects timeline, which was fantastic, because when you start a project like that, if you don't work together, you can lose track,” said Thomas.  “The other thing is if we ever run into any issue, we receive an immediate response. We have worked extremely closely with both the technical and marketing teams on strategy and tactics.” 

Following the successful launch of the Matter-compatible smart bulb in the US, Sengled plans to extend the use of ACK to build other smart home products and take them to market internationally. 

Learn more about Sengled and ACK. Visit the Sengled store on Amazon to choose from an array of lighting solutions.

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