Customized Home Control System Designed for Physically Impaired Children

ELAN, Core Brands, Aprilaire and Centralite contribute to complete custom smart home design, renovation and installation for this family in need.


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,” says Leavitt. “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 — including Core Brands, AprilaireCentralite and more — to see if they would donate product or services to build a wheelchair-accessible smart home for the Leavitt family.

“I was overwhelmed with the instant support I received when I approached them,” says Jones. “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. Thanks to all of the gracious donations, we have completely changed the lives of the Leavitt family.”

Complete Home Renovation

The extensive renovation included demolition, indoor and outdoor remodeling, and most notably, 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.

“We did not tell Shanna or the girls any of the details of the project until we revealed the finished and completed installation. They were surprised to see, experience and use the system for the first time,” says Jones. “We were able to give them one-touch control through the system anchored by ELAN gSC10 and ELAN g1 controllers with six ELAN gTP4 touchpanels installed throughout the home for convenient user interface.”

Product Solutions West purposefully installed touchpanels 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. “I was overcome with emotion when it was revealed to me for the first time, and since then, it’s become an everyday staple.”

Security and Convenience

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.

“We tied the ELAN g1 Controller to the door station so that all of the touch panels ‘pang’ 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 from any mobile tablet or touchpanel.

“We also installed an LCD Smartcode touchpanel 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.”

“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.”

— Gregg Jones, Product Solutions West

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.

Thirty-four Centralite Button Jetstream Dimmers and five Jetstream scene control 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.

“Aside from the necessary autonomous functionality, we made it a point to create a lighting system that cultivated a calming atmosphere,” Jones notes. “We integrated over 100 Glimmer LED Light Bulbs with the autonomous lighting system to create a very real and soft light at 3,000 Kelvin. The Glimmer bulbs work well with automation, and they also counteract any depression that may be rooted in Vitamin D deficiency.”

The smart home functionality also serves a critical purpose in boosting morale. 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 from a Niles PS6SI Pro Flowerpot Speaker.

“It goes without saying that when ‘your jam’ comes on, you’re instantly happier,” Jones says. “The girls are having a lot of fun controlling the music in the house — and not having to share.”

Power Protection and Future-Proofing

Because the system is so critical to the Leavitt family’s everyday life, it’s necessary to protect it from power surges or outages.

“Core Brands donated a Panamax M4000-Pro and a Panamax MB850 UPS to guarantee that the home would get uninterrupted power, and that the entire system would be protected in the case of a lightning strike or something equivalent,” Jones says. “We also utilize the BlueBOLT functionality to keep the network recycled and refreshed on a weekly basis.”

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.”

Photo Gallery: Go Inside the Leavitt Family Home

According to Leavitt, the family is adjusting well to the system.

“The girls are teaching me things I didn’t even know the system could do,” she says. “The remote and one-touch functionality is really great. And beyond that, it is so cool to know that there’s a huge community behind me at a time when I really need it.”

The project also proved to be an eye-opening and inspiring experience for Jones and his team.

“I am so thankful for every single person and company that helped us to transform this home for the better,” Jones concludes. “Future Tech Security and Adera Technologies assisted with infrastructure, installation, and programming. And, for anything that we were missing, Product Solutions West graciously donated their product and time. It’s really inspiring to experience how the residential technology industry can come together to make something great happen.”

About the Author

Lisa Montgomery:

Lisa Montgomery has been a member of the CE Pro and Electronic House editorial teams for nearly 20 years; most of that time as the Editor of Electronic House. With a knack for explaining complex high-tech topics in terms that average consumers can understand, her style of writing resonates with people who are interested in adding electronic systems to their homes, but are unsure of the steps involved and the solutions available. From basic lighting control systems to full-blown automation systems, Lisa understands the home electronics market well, and is able to point consumers in the right direction on their quest for a smarter, more convenient, efficient and enjoyable home.

Over the years, she has developed close relationships with key manufacturers and seasoned custom electronics professionals, giving her a keen sense of what home technologies are hot now and what is on the horizon. She shares this wisdom regularly through feature stories, product roundups, case studies technology spotlights and comprehensive guides and books.




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