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Wounded U.S. Airman Gets Voice-Controlled ELAN Smart Home

Core Brands and the Gary Sinise Foundation’s RISE (Restoring Independence, Supporting Empowerment) program recently presented a smart home to a wounded U.S. airman who lost three limbs in Iraq in 2004.

Thanks to the robust capabilities of the ELAN Entertainment & Control System, Core Brands and the Gary Sinise Foundation’s RISE (Restoring Independence, Supporting Empowerment) program recently presented a smart home to a wounded U.S. airman who lost three limbs in Iraq in 2004. The new home in Miramar Beach, FL combines the advanced ELAN system with Amazon’s Alexa voice-recognition technology to empower senior airman Brian Kolfage to control his home’s lights, security, HVAC, audio, and video through voice commands.

This voice control greatly increases Kolfage’s independence at home and is helping him enjoy daily life with his family, according to integration expert Jason Stanley at Tampa, FL-based AAMI. “It’s truly awe inspiring to witness the strength and perseverance of our nation’s bravest citizens,” Stanley said. “The team at AAMI is grateful to have donated our time and expertise to this project, and to help provide senior airman Kolfage with as much self sufficiency as possible in his home. One of the greatest feats of modern technology is to raise the standard of living for people with decreased mobility and injuries, and there’s no one more deserving of that technology than wounded veterans.”

The R.I.S.E. program brings together dozens of manufacturers and contractors to build and donate modern, accessible smart homes for wounded veterans across the U.S. When the foundation learned of Kolfage’s miraculous recovery from a devastating September 11, 2004 rocket attack in Balad, Iraq, they knew he was an ideal candidate to receive a new high-tech, ADA home with advanced features like voice control.

The top priority for the Kolfage family’s new home was that it was fully accessible and conducive to his daily life and family needs. The home was designed to ADA specifications for wheelchair mobility, which means hallways, doorways, and the shower are wider and accessible. The ELAN system gives him voice or iPad/iPhone control of the home’s lights, HVAC, security system and cameras, televisions, and multiroom audio.

The team at AAMI created a super-simple system for the Kolfages, so they can be watching Apple TV in one room, pause it, then go to another room and pick up where they paused. Similarly, the family can easily play music through a multiroom audio system that controls in-ceiling speakers in the family room, living room, dining room, master bedroom, and bathroom, and eventually in the landscape and pool area after the pool construction is completed.

This home is a well deserved gift to the Kolfage family, according to Judith Otter, executive director of the Gary Sinise Foundation. “The sacrifice made by senior airman Kolfage and his family is immeasurable,” Otter said. “Our foundation is incredibly lucky to work for the benefit of our nation’s wounded veterans, and with the help of our partners and the advanced 21st century technologies available, these brave Americans are able to regain control of their lives and once again celebrate their independence.”

Having control over his house is important for Kolfage, who is raising two young children, ages one and three, with his wife. The ELAN system enables Kolfage to check on his children without getting out of bed through video feeds on the ELAN app, in addition to having full-home surveillance that stays recorded for several weeks. There is even a 4-inch touchpanel mounted to the wall in each child’s bedroom, so when they are older, they can use the system’s intercom feature to communicate through the house and to any family member’s mobile device through the ELAN app. With a video doorbell, the parents can see who is at the door and speak through the intercom from anywhere in the house, or anywhere in the world, again through the ELAN app.

One of the greatest strengths of the smart home system is the scheduling and automation it offers, so Kolfage asked AAMI to program specific events to happen together, such as making the phrase “Alexa, turn on the living room TV” automatically also turn on the lights and stereo as it turns on the living room TV. Other specialized functions can include an “Away” button or phrase that will turn off all lights and TVs, set the HVAC to a standard setting, and arm the security system when they leave the house, configure the closet lights to turn on at 30 percent if it’s dark outside, and turn on specific lights guiding the family from the front door to their bedrooms when arriving home late.

AAMI ensured the family would have easy access and control of the system by installing ELAN touchpanels in the kitchen and master bedroom, three ELAN HR200 wand-style remotes for simple TV control in the family room, living room, and master bedroom, and multiple mobile devices with the ELAN app installed.

“The ELAN control system was the best choice for this project because it is by far the simplest for users to learn and use from device to device,” Stanley said. “That’s thanks to ELAN’s user interface, which is identical no matter what device a homeowner uses, from iPhones and Android smartphones, to PCs, tablets, and wall-mounted touchpanels. The app looks the same and the buttons are identical, so there’s no guessing or learning required when buying a new device or moving from room to room. We couldn’t be happier to give the family full control of their home and provide greater freedom for Senior Airman Kolfage.”