Home automation is about far more than luxury, a lesson that industry professionals learned as they banded together to construct a customized smart home for a family in need.
Shanna Leavitt’s two daughters were diagnosed with Friedreich’s Ataxia this past May, a disease that causes progressive damage to the nervous system. Leavitt soon realized that renovations were a must to remain in her home and make it functional and accessible for her daughters as the years progressed.
“One day, I explained all of this to my old friend Gregg Jones, and the rest is history,” says Leavitt.
Jones, a Technical Sales Manager at Product Solutions West, took immediate action to bring his company on board with this project. With the help of RockCreek Builders and a variety of industry vendors—Core Brands, Aprilaire and Centralite, to name a few—Jones and company collaborated to create a form of “digital caregiving” for the Leavitt family.
“This was really the first opportunity for us to use technology in a way that was really aimed at improving somebody’s life,” says Jim Peebles, partner at Product Solutions West. “When I look at the project, I get excited about ease of access. I get excited about the serenity, and I get excited about the quality of life.”
A “Digital Caregiver” for Health and Wellness
By creating a “digital caregiver” with automation, those involved on the project have learned technology’s value when it comes to health, wellness and improving homeowners’ day-to-day lives.
“I think we’re really starting to learn that the concepts of automation and integration, and all we can do with them, present a huge opportunity in health and wellness,” says Gregg Jones.
The extensive renovation included demolition, indoor and outdoor remodeling and the integration of smart home infrastructure through an Elan system. This platform allows Leavitt and her children to control lighting, intercoms, security, music and climate from anywhere, and through easily accessible in-wall touch panels or tablets.
The home also includes what Jones calls a “Serenity Package,” where concepts such as music and lighting play an extremely integral role. For example, whole-house audio control allows the girls to enjoy their favorite music from anywhere in the home. This could seem trivial to the average luxury homeowner, but for these children it has made a world of difference.
“Let’s be honest. Listening to music isn’t an absolute necessity, but it definitely does bring your mood up,” says Jones.
Lighting also helps with mood, and Product Solutions West integrated Centralite and Glimmer lighting systems that operate autonomously with the home. Jones and Peebles both note that these lighting solutions can help battle the depression of Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is common in the home’s Calgary location due to a lack of daylight hours during the wintertime.
“It’s all really powerful stuff when you look at it from a holistic, simplified level,” says Peebles.
Automation as Individual as the Client
Automation continues to advance, and with this progression, comes more and more opportunities for technologies to be tailor-made to specific clients. Product Solutions West’s primary background was in luxury and commercial properties, but this specific project proved that home automation should be available to everybody and customizable to all disabilities.
“Automation should help all,” says Jones, who outlines ways in which to do so.
Blinking light systems can be implemented for those who are deaf. For the blind, audible notifications are key. Quadriplegics can use touch screens at head height with a touch sensitive pen or operate automation through voice control.
There are always options, and builders, integrators and vendors should work together—as occurred with this project—to find solutions that best fit the specificities of a given client. Jones adds that careful attention should be paid to modifying and designing systems to develop and age with clients.
Simply put, if homeowners have a great relationship with their individual home technology, there is a greater likelihood of their relationship remaining strong with your business as well.