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 a physical product type, such as a smart fan. You must create a virtual product before you can prototype your physical product.

Improve the product experience

When you build a product with ACK, you define the product experience. An important part of the product experience is your product's response to Alexa utterances and user control of the product with the Alexa app. Virtual products allow you to define these experiences before you actually work with the hardware.

Construction of a virtual product helps you answer questions about the product experience. For example, which Alexa utterances does your product support? Can a user say to your fan, "Alexa, set the fan to night mode"? As another example, when a user goes to your product settings page in the Alexa app, is the product description accurate and thorough?

Configure your product

To create the experience you want, you must build a high-quality physical product with the correct on-device software. For Alexa registration, you must also configure several parameters used by ACK-managed services:

  • The Alexa smart home capabilities that your product supports, such as Alexa.PowerController. These 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. Proper configuration of the display category ensures that your product appears in the correct category in the Alexa app, with the right iconography. For details, see Display Categories.

Prototype your product

When you build a physical product with ACK, you incorporate the ACK module into the printed circuit board assembly (PCBA). ACK modules arrive from a module manufacturer as generic hardware. They don't represent any specific product or functionality. Virtual products let you convert a generic module or a module in the ACK Development Kit into a prototype, so that you can test your Alexa utterances and the 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 provisioned state, you can register it with Alexa and start to receive smart home directives. You can use Amazon Frustration-Free Setup to register the ACK module (your physical device) with the Alexa service. For more details about module states, see Module Provisioning.

The following image shows what you see in the virtual console after you 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).

ACK Development Kit in the developer console
ACK Development Kit

Manage product activities

Your virtual product in the ACK console is the reference point for the development and launch of your smart product. You can manage the following activities in the console:

  • Review individual device logs
  • Conduct over-the-air firmware updates
  • Review business intelligence data
  • Edit smart home capabilities
  • Manage other product development and business operations

Create a virtual product

The ACK developer console is the repository for the virtual product you create.

  • You can have up to five virtual products per developer account.
  • You can't delete a virtual product after you create it.
  • If you need to make more virtual products, open a new Amazon developer account or reach out to your ACK representative.

The following example shows the information you need to create a virtual product. After you submit your data, the ACK developer console generates the virtual product for you. No complex coding or configuration is required.

Virtual product creation
Creation of a virtual product in the ACK developer console

After you generate your virtual product, you can add more smart home capabilities to it. You can also specify the information that appears in the Alexa app. For example, the following image shows how to use the drop-down menu in the JSON editor to add a RangeController to a product.

Virtual product options
Selection of virtual product options in the ACK developer console

Example: create a virtual smart plug

The following smart plug example illustrates the properties you define when you design a virtual product.

Value Example

Product Name

Smart plug

Description (brand name and device model)

Amazon Smart Plug V2

Manufacturer Name

Amazon

Display Category

SMARTPLUG

Region Support

Region 1 (BR, CA, MX, US)

Commercial distribution?

No

Marketed to children?

No

Define product capabilities

Some smart home capabilities are available only to commercial manufacturers. To access these capabilities, contact your ACK representative. The definition of a smart home capability interface is similar to the definition of Alexa Discovery Object capabilities. For details, see the Alexa.Discovery interface.