No problem…very interesting and I will attempt to reproduce it…Thanks for the heads up!


Was just able to reproduce it…will fix it and will put it with the release this Friday!

EDIT 2 Found the mistake and published it with a quick fix…Thanks!

I have been trying to get askAlexa to work for the past couple of days but I seem to be running into a roadblock. I am able to get the askAlexa smartapp (version 2.3.6a) published and it shows up in smartthings now easily. The next step is to install the lambda function and I am having issues.

When I click “Setup Variables” I get an error code:
{“error”:true,“type”:java.lang.NullPointerException",“message”:“An unexpected error ccurred.”}

I tried erasing the smart app and reinstalling it manually and then again automatically (with github) and i have the same issue.

I tried live logging in smartthings and when I click the “setup Variables” I get this error code in the live logging:

java.lang.NullPointerException: Cannot invoke method toLowerCase() on null object

What am I doing wrong?

Thank you


This is the exact error as the user above. I just fixed the GitHub location files. If you grab that and overwrite what you have in your ide it should work.

Please report back and let me know if it indeed worked for you.

I did what the last user wrote and erased the invocation name and then put it back to Smart Things. Went back in and now it works. Thanks!

Perfect…a more permanent fix is now published on GitHub, but you should be fine going forward. Enjoy!

If you are looking at this thread contemplating installing Ask Alexa for the first time, just FYI…there is a new version coming out tomorrow (Friday 1/19). I wouldn’t hesitate as the upgrade is simply new IDE code, but just FYI for those on the fence. New features include WebCoRE xParams that can now be created within the app and MyNextManager integrations.

Edit New version here: [RELEASE] Ask Alexa 2.3.7

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Geeze Mike, now I have one more thing I need to do this weekend. Thanks a lot :grin:

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It is an easy upgrade if it helps…I have some other things in the works for the next release I think some folks will enjoy. So I know what I will be doing this weekend :smiley:

Welcome to another Friday! It is strange not having any football on TV until the Super Bowl…What will I do?!? Guess I will continue to update the apps! Actually, that is exactly what I have been doing…

First, for those of you that are fans of the FooBot device @storageanarchy send me a pull request that improves the calculation accuracy along with formatting a little bit better on iOS devices. Thanks again to Barry for his work in keeping me ‘precise’ (inside joke). Files and other information can be found here: http://thingsthataresmart.wiki/index.php?title=Foobot_Air_Quality_Monitor

For Ask Alexa, I have been working with @bangali to integrate his up-and-coming Room Occupancy concept. You will not only be able to query the status of a room’s occupancy but also change the status based on occupancy (like sleep or enabled). Think of it like the concept of the ‘check in’ that I put into Ask Alexa last year, but on a more ‘micro’ or room level. Until the release, I recommend checking out the app here: Rooms Manager smartapps and Rooms Occupancy DTH (Smarter Lighting with automated rules driven lighting)

In other Ask Alexa news, I have not yet been able to figure out who sent me the bitcoins I mentioned a couple weeks ago. I ended up cashing them out, and thank goodness as they have dropped in price. The link I put into my release notes is only for donations for Ask Alexa, so I know they came from someone here. Again, all I want to do is thank you…if you are reading this, I DO appreciate the donation!

While I thought the Christmas rush was the reason for the increased number of Ask Alexa installs, I have been actually rather pleased to see from my statistics that the rate of 5 to 10 installs per week is being maintained. I don’t track this to the granular level to see if a single person may be attempting multiple installs, but I can tell there is a consistent number of installs happening. I REALLY appreciate everyone who installs and uses the app! And, my installation questions have been reduced due to the new process of installation where the custom code is given to you and you don’t have to constantly copy/paste information.

Finally, thanks to @Michael_Deffendall for helping me improve the documentation even further. Amazon is constantly updating their web sites, so I need to keep on the documentation to match it. In a rare set of events, Amazon has actually made the AWS process even easier now. Again, thanks to Michael for the great suggestions on how to improve the installation and the documentation!


Thanks for the call-out… :smile:

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I will need to look into this room occupancy thing…Does SmartThings have bluetooth beacons or is this using some other technology!

Great work Michael on keeping this program going!


I don’t think so…could be wrong… @bangali can explain how his room occupancy works.

on mobile so quick response - no it does not use beacons. it uses a combination of sensors everything from presence, contact, switch, power, lux and others to set rooms occupancy state and execute a set of user created rules in the app to turn on/off switches, execute routines etc.

please do check it out. happy to answer other questions about it.



thanks for adding support for rooms occupancy status and state update with Ask Alexa… much appreciated.

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I finally got around to updating my AskAlexa installation. It took longer to read the instructions than to do the work.

RE: @bangali 's Rooms Manager. What kind of black magic do I need to do to get room status updates. I didn’t see any specific slot to place my Rooms Occupancy devices, so I added them under switches, added them to AskAlexa rooms and then added them to the room report. The Room Report is seeing the device- but reading it as ‘null’

What’s the correct configuration to add a Rooms Occupancy object for control and reporting?

As always - great work!

I think that is great! Wonderful testimonial (I hope) to the processes I have set up.

However, to be clear, I have NOT added the room occupancy to the version that is publicly available. I continue to work on it, and there is a chance it will be released next Friday, or worst case, the Friday after. That being said, when I get a working version would you be interested in beta testing it?

Also, the documentation is not ready yet, but there are going to be 4 ways you can use the occupancy. Let’s say the sensor is {Room}

  • Alexa, Ask SmartThings about the {Room}…this will give you the occupancy status
  • Alexa, Tell SmartThings to set {Room} to Vacant…will set the room to the value you give it
  • Alexa, Tell SmartThings to run {xxxx}…where xxx is a Control Macro and one of the items you can control with the other items in the macro is the occupancy device(s)
  • Alexa, tell SmartThings to run {house report}…house report is a voice report name that will now be able to query various items within the house, including the occupancy sensor.

Hope that all makes sense.

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Perfect sense. Thank you!

Yes - It was intended as a compliment, I chose to read the instructions top to bottom, where I really only needed the upgrade section at the end. had I chosen to skip down there I would have been up and running in ~5 minutes.

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Sent you a PM…

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Is anyone else having a problem with getting Amazon to update the Sample Utterances? I keep getting this error: Error: There was a failure saving the intent schema or sample utterances

Yes…When I attempted to update the slots directly AFTER going from the beta interaction model to just the normal screen…Ironically, using the interaction model beta builder seems to work. Did you go back and forth between those screens? Or have you never used the beta interaction model? If not, then that is definitely an issue at Amazon.