Earlier this year, Shanna Leavitt’s two daughters were diagnosed with Friedreich's Ataxia, a disease that causes progressive damage to the nervous system. Within a few weeks of the diagnosis, Leavitt’s youngest child was put in a wheelchair as the symptoms began to impair her muscle coordination. Leavitt realized that, in order to keep living in her Calgary-based home, she would have to invest in significant renovations to make the home more functional and accessible for her and her daughters in the years to come.
“With the sudden onset of the symptoms, I was having a hard time carrying the kids up and down the stairs. They were both experiencing difficulties controlling the lights and the television, or turning the knob to answer the front door,” Leavitt said. “I knew that I would have to eventually renovate the home to include wheelchair access and improved functionality, even though I didn’t have the funds to do so. One day, I explained all of this to my old friend Gregg Jones, and the rest is history.”
Immediately following their conversation, Jones, a Technical Sales Manager at Product Solutions West, realized that he could apply a smart home system design— which he had only previously implemented in luxury residences— to provide “digital caregiving” for the Leavitt family. To do so, he solicited dozens of custom installation vendors to donate products or services to build a wheelchair-accessible smart home for the Leavitt family.
“It’s easy to get caught up in the ‘cool factor’ of home automation. But smart home technology is really designed to improve the quality of life, and it has definitely done so in this home," says Jones.
The extensive renovation included demolition, indoor and outdoor remodeling, and the integration of a customized new smart home infrastructure built on an ELAN Entertainment & Control System. The new system enables Leavitt and her children to control the home’s lighting, front door intercom station, security, music and climate, autonomously or remotely, from tablets or easily accessible in-wall touch panels.
Product Solutions West installed touch panels at switch height to make them wheelchair accessible. The children can also easily control the lights or change the song playing from their own Apple iPads. “The new functionality has totally changed our lives,” Leavitt says.
The new ELAN system also provides Intercom functionality, which is critical for communicating room-to-room, in addition to providing instant access to the front door. the installers tied the ELAN controller to the door station so that all of the touch panels ping when the doorbell has rung, Jones explains. “The girls can see who’s at the door, right from their tablets or touch panels.”
ELAN’s Intercom feature communicates with a Weiser Smart Code Door Lock and a Door Station Controller, which allows for locking and unlocking of the door with any mobile tablet or touch panel. “We also installed an LCD Smartcode touch panel door lock because the girls are losing finger strength,” Jones explains. “They can now lock the door, or unlock the door, remotely. It’s important that they can let their nanny and nurse in easily, even if Shanna isn’t home.”
A newly installed Centralite and Glimmer lighting system operates autonomously within the home so that neither of the children have to worry about turning the lights on or off as they move from room to room. Dimmers and switchers communicate directly with the ELAN system so that the girls can easily dim the lights from their iPads, or from the touchpads in the walls, if they so choose.
Through a six source, six zone SpeakerCraft MRA-664 Multi-Room Audio Controller, the children can listen to their favorite genre of music individually and instantaneously, in any room, on 10 SpeakerCraft in-ceiling speakers and even outdoors with a Niles PS6SI Pro Flowerpot Speaker.
The ELAN system also offers peace-of-mind for the foreseeable future. The flexible platform allows Product Solutions West to add onto the system as the family’s needs develop over time. “We don’t know what their needs are going to be as time goes on,” Jones says. “Through ELAN, we have the ability to customize and add on new features in the future.”
The family is adjusting well to its smart home, according to Leavitt, who says “the girls are teaching me things I didn’t even know the system could do.”