Understand Virtual Products

The Alexa Connect Kit (ACK) console provides a central place to create, edit, and manage your virtual products. A virtual product represents a physical product type, such as a smart light. When you create or edit a virtual product, you choose its Alexa capabilities and define aspects of the Alexa app experience. You associate the virtual product with your physical product in a process called provisioning, which allows the product to register with Alexa and ACK services.

Why ACK Virtual Products?

Easily define your product's Alexa experience

When you build a product with ACK, you need to define your product's customer experience related to Alexa and the Alexa app. For example, what Alexa utterances will your product support? Can a customer say to your humidifier, “Alexa, set the humidifier to night mode”? As another example, when a customer goes to your product's settings page in the Alexa app, what product description will they see?

Creating the experience you want requires you to build a high-quality physical product with the right on-device software. It also requires you to configure several parameters that are used by ACK managed services for registration with Alexa.

Parameters that you configure for your virtual product include:

  • The Alexa Smart Home capabilities that your product supports, such as PowerController. The capabilities define the Alexa utterances your customers can use and the Alexa app control page they interact with. See Supported Alexa smart home capabilities for more information.

  • Your product's display category, such as SMARTPLUG, OVEN, or LIGHT. The display category ensures that your product appears in the correct category in the Alexa app, with the correct iconography. See Alexa Discovery - Display Categories for more information.

See How Alexa Connect Kit works for an explanation of how your physical product, ACK managed services, and the ACK console work together.

Enable rapid prototyping

When you build a physical product with Alexa Connect Kit, you incorporate the ACK module into your physical product's printed circuit board assembly (PCBA). ACK modules come from a module manufacturer as generic hardware, and do not represent any specific product or functionality. Virtual products allow you to easily convert a generic module or an ACK Development Kit into a prototype so that you can test your Alexa utterances and overall customer experience. This is possible because each virtual product has unique metadata that enables authentication of an ACK module as your product. To convert an ACK module to your specific virtual product you use the provisioning along with your product's metadata to move a module from the module provisioned state to the product provisioned state. For more information, see the Module Life Cycle Overview.

A single place for product activities

As part of developing and launching a smart product you will need to review individual device logs, conduct over the air firmware updates, review business intelligence data, edit your product's Alexa Smart Home capabilities, and execute many other activities. Your virtual product in the ACK console is the reference that coordinates these activities. For example, you can coordinate over the air updates* for your products. See Alexa Connect Kit Features for more information about the available features.

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