While stationed in Iraq in 2006, Brandon Byers, a senior airman in the U.S. Air Force’s Security Forces, volunteered to take the position of rear gunner on the last truck of a team securing a bridge. During the mission, an IED exploded directly under the truck, doing great damage to Byers’ left leg, necessitating numerous surgeries and eventually amputation. In recognition of his heroic actions and service to the United States, the Gary Sinise Foundation’s R.I.S.E. program (Restoring Independence, Supporting Empowerment) recently built and gifted the Byers family with a new smart home designed to specifically address his needs.
Air Force Veteran Gains Independence with Smart Home Tech
According to Pat Devlin, president of Dallas-based Smart Systems, which installed the home’s technology, “No one is more deserving of a life-simplifying ELAN smart home system than wounded soldiers. Small things, like being able to adjust the lights or heat from the couch without having to get up, to big things like security and remote control, can make a major difference in daily life and comfort. This was our first project working with the Gary Sinise Foundation’s R.I.S.E. program, and we were thrilled to be able to show our appreciation for a local veteran.”
Byers’ new home features electronic door locks, outdoor surveillance cameras, a security system, multi-room and outdoor audio and video, motorized window shades, touch screen video intercoms, a video doorbell, enterprise-grade Wi-Fi and cell phone signal boosters. An ELAN control system ties all of those elements together and makes them accessible from a single smartphone app that can be used anywhere in the world.
“The ELAN system is the brain,” Devlin said. “Through the ELAN app, or from any of the ELAN touch screens or handheld remotes in the home, each family member can adjust and monitor every one of the technologies installed. If Brandon wants to turn on the air conditioning and open the garage door before he and the family arrive home one day, he can do that from his smart phone. If Mrs. Byers wants to see video of who is at the door from her bedroom, she can do that. If the kids want to shut the blinds, turn up the heat, put on a movie and raise the volume, they can do all of that from a single app. That’s what ‘smart home’ means to us - the ability to control many systems from a single interface. That’s what makes it so useful, and why it was such a vital element in the Gary Sinise Foundation’s goal to provide the Byers family with the simplest living situation possible.”
Smart Systems worked with top manufacturers to build out the home, which also includes three Sony HDTVs with one outdoors, 16 SpeakerCraft speakers with two outdoors, a surround sound system with a powerful in-wall Sunfire subwoofer, a Sonos streaming system and Panamax surge protection and battery backup that ensures smooth operation and protection of all the expensive equipment. Through the Panamax equipment’s BlueBOLT functionality, the integrators at Smart Systems can access the system remotely for maintenance and any required troubleshooting. This even goes for the outdoor TV located on the back patio.
Byers’ family can control the system through two ELAN gTP7 touch panels in the master bedroom and the great room, as well as with the couple’s iPad, mobile devices and three ELAN remotes. With electronic door locks, a connected garage door and a Doorbird video door bell, the Byers family has total access and dominion over entering the home. This means they could be away, and log in remotely to unlock the doors and let in a neighbor to water plants or check on the house.
Smart Systems also programmed special “Away” and “Welcome” modes that automatically adjust every home system with a single command. With one touch of the “Away’ button, the security system engages, all the doors lock, the garage door closes, the TVs, lights, and speakers turn off, and the HVAC goes to a pre-set level. Then when they return, the “Welcome” button brings every system back to the way it is normally set.
Judith Otter, executive director of the Gary Sinise Foundation, added, “Each new home we build is an emotional project where we add another deserving member to the R.I.S.E. community. Sr. Airman Byers and his family have worked hard to regain normalcy for more than a decade, and we are proud to help them gain more independence and control of their environment both in and away from the home. We all know life isn’t easy, particularly for wounded veterans. Where we can make it a bit easier, we try.”