Virtual Products

The Alexa Connect Kit (ACK) developer console provides a central place to create, edit, and manage your virtual products. A virtual product is a digital representation of your physical product type, such as a smart fan. You must create a virtual product to start prototyping your product.

After you create a virtual product, you set up your Smart Home Capability Interfaces and define your Alexa app experience.

After you create your virtual product, you associate it with your physical product in a process called module provisioning. Module provisioning registers your product with Alexa and ACK services.

After module provisioning, you can register the ACK module (your physical device) with the Alexa services using Amazon Frustration-Free Setup.

Why are virtual products important?

When you build a product with ACK, you define the your product experience, including how your product responds to Alexa utterances and how a user controls it with the Alexa app.

Virtual products allow you to define these experiences before you actually work with hardware.

Easily define the Alexa experience for your product

Building a virtual product helps you answer questions about your product experience. For example, what Alexa utterances does your product support? Can a user say to your humidifier, ""Alexa, set the humidifier to night mode?" As another example, when a user goes to your product settings page in the Alexa app, what product description do they see?

Creating the experience you want requires that you build a high-quality physical product with the correct 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 Alexa.PowerController. The capabilities define the Alexa utterances your customers can use and the Alexa app control page they interact with. For details, see Smart Home Capabilities.

  • 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. For details, see Display Categories.

Enable rapid prototyping

When you build a physical product with ACK, 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 don't represent any specific product or functionality. Virtual products allow you to convert a generic module or a module on the ACK development kit into a prototype, so that you can test your Alexa utterances and overall product experience.

Through a process called provisioning, you associate the actual physical ACK module hardware with the virtual product you defined in the ACK console. After you move the ACK module to the product provisioned state, it can be registered with Alexa and start receiving smart home directives. For more details about module states, see Module Provisioning.

The following image shows what you see in your virtual console after your register an ACK development kit with Alexa. An ACK development kit is shipped to you already product provisioned as a Development Kit. This label changes after you reprovision the kit as a specific product (for example, a fan).

Example of an ACK module provisioned as a development kit
Example: ACK module provisioned as a development kit

A single place for product activities

As part of developing and launching a smart product, you need to review individual device logs, conduct over-the-air firmware updates, review business intelligence data, edit your smart home capabilities, and run other activities. Your virtual product in the ACK console is the reference that coordinates these activities.

Example: define a virtual product for a smart fan

The following example outlines the properties you must define when designing a virtual product for a smart fan.

Value Description

Manufacturer name

Amazon

Description

A smart fan that maintains the perfect temperature

Alexa smart home capabilities

PowerController and RangeController

Product display category

FAN

Region support

Region 1 (BR, CA, MX, US)

Commercial use?

No

Children's product?

No

Create a virtual product

You use the ACK developer console to create a virtual product.

  • You can only create one virtual product per developer account.
  • You can't delete a virtual product after you create it.
  • If you need to create more virtual products, create a new Amazon developer account.

The following image shows an example of the information you provide when creating a virtual product. After you submit your product information, the ACK developer console generates your virtual product without any heavy coding or immediate configurations.

Creating a virtual product in the ACK Developer Console.

After you generate your virtual product, you can add additional smart home capabilities and specify the information that appears in the Alexa app. For example, the following image shows an example of adding a RangeController to a product by using the JSON editor drop down menu.

Creating a virtual product in the ACK Developer Console.

Implementation considerations

  • Some smart home capabilities are only available for commercial manufacturers. To get access to these capabilities, contact your ACK representative.
  • If you're familiar with Alexa smart home development, defining a smart home capability interface is similar to defining of the capabilities of the Alexa Discovery Object.