Understand Alexa Connect Kit

Alexa Connect Kit (ACK) is a managed service that makes it easy to integrate Alexa into your product. With ACK, you don't need to write an Alexa skill, manage a cloud service, or develop complex network and security firmware to connect your product to Alexa. Instead, you integrate the ACK module into your product and pay a one-time fixed cost. ACK provides the managed services, software, and tools you can use to develop and manage your Alexa-connected products on an ongoing basis. Your users benefit from Alexa device control and other features, such as Amazon's Wifi Simple Setup (WSS).

Alexa Connect Kit features

Alexa Connect Kit is a managed solution that enables you to build products that are compatible with Alexa. A product integrated with ACK has the following features:

  • Alexa control – Control the product with the Alexa app or an Alexa-enabled product, such as an Amazon Echo Dot or an Alexa Built-in device.
  • Alexa companion app support * – Support for your product's custom Alexa companion app. This is an optional feature for commercial manufacturers.
  • Amazon Dash Replenishment Service * – Enable Amazon's Dash Replenishment Service (DRS) for your devices. For information about DRS, see Dash Replenishment Service.
  • Logs and metrics * – View logs and metrics for your devices.
  • Over the air firmware updates * – Update ACK module and host microcontroller firmware over the air.
  • Wifi Simple Setup – Register products with WSS, which is a feature of Amazon's Frustration Free Setup (FFS). WSS makes it easy for your users to register their devices with Amazon and Alexa services. WSS can offer zero-touch setup, barcode registration, and user-guided setup for device registration. For more information about WSS, see Understand Wifi Simple Setup.

    * Currently available in Developer Preview for commercial manufacturers only.

    In addition to the previous device-specific features, ACK provides an ACK Console to manage and configure your devices.

    The ACK Console enables you to perform the following tasks:

    • Create and edit virtual products.
    • View the Alexa capabilities associated with your product.
    • Download resources, such as the ACK Device SDK.

How Alexa Connect Kit works

The following diagram shows the high-level components of an ACK-based smart device:

Components of an ACK-based smart device
Components of an ACK-based smart device

ACK supports an on-device hardware component called an ACK Module that you purchase from a third-party and integrate into your device. The ACK Module is a wifi and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) hardware system-on-module that runs Amazon-managed firmware. The ACK Module provides connection to Alexa and the ACK Services and communicates with your device’s host microcontroller unit (HMCU) via universal asynchronous receiver-transmitter (UART).

The HMCU runs your device's application, which handles device-specific logic for your device. The ACK Device SDK provides C source code that you use in your device's HMCU application. The ACK Device SDK provides the link between your device's HMCU and the ACK Module.

The following list shows the high-level components of Alexa Connect Kit:

ACK Console – The ACK Console enables you to configure and manage your ACK-based products and devices. With the ACK Console, you can view registered devices, create and edit virtual products, and download resources.

Alexa-enabled device or Alexa app – An ACK-based device relies on the Alexa app or an Alexa-enabled device, such as an Amazon Echo Dot, to enable Alexa voice interaction and device control by the user.

ACK Managed Services – ACK managed services provide partner and device-specific functionalities, such as Alexa capability management, and logs and metrics for your devices.

Alexa Services – Alexa services convert user utterances into directives, support WSS, and provide access to other Alexa capabilities and features. These are not specific to ACK.

Components of a product built with ACK

The following list shows the high-level components of a product built with ACK

Product built with ACK - A product that can connect to Alexa and ACK services via the ACK module.

  • ACK Module – An Amazon-managed system-on-a-module that you integrate into your devices. The ACK module runs Amazon-managed firmware that provides connection with Alexa and the ACK managed services, and connection with your device’s host microcontroller unit (HMCU) via universal asynchronous receiver-transmitter (UART).
  • HMCU – The HMCU runs the device's HMCU application.
  • HMCU Application – The HMCU application runs the device-specific logic that governs device behavior.

    You can use sample applications in the ACK Device SDK as a basis for your device's own HMCU application.

    • ACK Device SDK – C source code for your device's HMCU application, available as a resource for download from the ACK Console Resources.

      The ACK Device SDK has two main components:

      • HMCU Implementation Core – The implementation core communicates between your HMCU application and the ACK module. The implementation core handles device registration, life cycle management, device state changes, and Alexa directives and events.

      • Sample applications – The sample applications represent different types of products with unique Alexa capabilities and functions, such as a smart light or ceiling fan.

  • Additional MCUs and peripheral hardware – Your ACK product might use one or more additional microcontroller units (MCUs) and peripheral hardware.

Supported Alexa smart home capabilities

The Smart Home Skill API defines the different Alexa capabilities that your device can support. The Smart Home capability interfaces describe a device's behavior and functionality. Each ACK-based device has associated Alexa capabilities. For example, a smart light will probably use the PowerController and BrightnessController capabilities. For more information about the Alexa Smart Home Skill API, see Understand the Smart Home Skill API.

The following table shows the Alexa Smart Home capability interfaces currently supported by ACK.

Interface Function
Alexa.BrightnessController Controls the brightness of a device such as a smart light bulb.
Alexa.ColorController Changes the color of a device, such as a color-changing light bulb.
Alexa.ColorTemperatureController Controls the color temperature of a device that supports tunable white light.
Alexa.Cooking* Controls cooking functions on cooking appliances.
Select functions of Alexa.Cooking and related Alexa.Cooking capability interfaces are supported.
Alexa.ModeController Controls the mode settings of a device, such as fan speed.
Alexa.PercentageController Controls properties of a device that can expressed in percentage. For example, a smart light bulb set to 20% brightness.
Alexa.PowerController Controls and reports on the power state of a device.
Alexa.RangeController Controls the settings of a device that correspond with a minimum and maximum range. For example, a fan with range settings from 1-10.
Alexa.TimeHoldController* Pauses a time value of a device. For example, to pause an oven while it is cooking.
Alexa.ToggleController Toggles a device setting that can be toggled on or off. For example, toggle a fan's oscillation mode.

* Currently available in Developer Preview for commercial manufacturers only

How a user interacts with an ACK-based device

When a user says "Alexa, turn on my kitchen light," the Alexa service interprets the user utterance and sends a Alexa.PowerController TurnOn directive to the ACK service, which routes it to the ACK module. The ACK module forwards the directive to the HMCU. The device's HMCU application receives it using functionality provided by the ACK Device SDK, and device-specific logic turns the light on. The device's HMCU application lets the ACK Device SDK know it has processed the directive, which causes an Alexa.Response event to be sent back to Alexa.

Prototype with the USI Development Kit for ACK

To make it easy to prototype your devices, the USI Development Kit for ACK is available for purchase on Amazon.com. The USI Development Kit for ACK comes with a sample HMCU and development board with an integrated ACK module. You upload an ACK Device SDK sample application to the development kit's HMCU, and then connect the development kit to Alexa and ACK services. You then control the development device with the Alexa app or an Alexa-enabled device, such as an Amazon Echo dot.

When you register the development kit with Alexa, the ACK Console enables you to manage your devices. You can also view device information, such as Alexa capabilities and device registration status.

Next steps

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