Smart homes can change lives. Just ask veteran MSG John Masson and his family, who were recently handed the keys and iPad to their new specially adapted smart home at a dedication ceremony held in Southern Pines, North Carolina. After losing three limbs in Afghanistan in 2010, Masson was selected by Building for America’s Bravest, a partner program of the Gary Sinise Foundation’s R.I.S.E. program, to receive a smart home that aims to ease daily challenges and afford him independence. With new technologies donated from top manufacturers including Core Brands, almost all aspects of the home can be completely controlled through the family’s smartphones and tablets wherever they go.
“This is truly a blessing and it’s changed our lives,” Masson said of his family’s experience in the home. “I’m thankful every day for everyone involved, from the builders and workers on site to the companies that donated equipment and materials, to Gary Sinise himself who helped get this amazing house built in less than 10 months. The technology is fantastic and it helps me do a lot of things much easier, even something that seems simple like changing a DVD. That could be a challenge for me alone, but now through the ELAN g! iPad app and the Kaleidescape movie server I can change what I’m watching without needing to get in my chair and cross the room, saving me time and frustration. I’ll never be able to thank everyone enough, but I’ll continue to do so at every opportunity.”
Among the many accoutrements in the home are retractable cabinets and shelving, automated lighting, window shades and security systems, transfer benches, whole-home audio and video and more. Nearly $130,000 (retail value) of technology equipment was donated and installed, and the brain that ties it all together is an ELAN g! system that gives Masson and his family easy control.
The home includes two large ELAN in-wall touchscreens and an iPad to make it easy for the family to manage three climate zones, 29 motorized window shades, a full Lutron RadioRA 2 system, two doors with electronic locks, security, surveillance, and multi-room audio and video including a professional home theater, affectionately referred to as the man cave. With an Epson 6030 series projector, Vutec screen, five Sunfire CRS-3 ribbon speakers mounted on the wall, two Sunfire SubRosa subwoofers and six additional Niles speakers for surround, this man cave provides the ultimate home viewing experience for the Masson family.
“The man cave is one of my favorite things about the house,” Masson said. “Anything that makes my life easier or more convenient is a huge help for both functionality and my state of mind. It all comes back to the wonderful people who made this all possible, who’ve given me back a lot of freedom to live comfortably. It was challenging to have guests over since I came back in 2010, and that’s something a family needs. Now we can have our family and friends come to the house without worrying about complications or space and I can set up all the music, lights and anything else form my iPad.”
According to Joel Berrettini, the project’s lead technology integrator and owner of IT and Media Solutions, working on this home is the least he could do. “I would do anything for these men, and I will continue to do so as long as the opportunity is available. Providing wounded veterans these homes, to regain a sense of normalcy and independence, takes a lot of partners and a lot of cooperation. The product donations from Core Brands and our other valued sponsors make these homes possible and we cannot thank them enough.”
Using the latest technologies from ELAN Home Systems, Niles Audio, Sunfire, Lutron, QMotion and others, Berrettini designed a system that gives Masson as much control as possible to stay in charge of his home. In fact, Masson’s home will soon be one of the first in the world to use the new ELAN 6x4 HDMI matrix to deliver HD video throughout the home. Berrettini is expecting to install two of the matrices in early 2015.
From installing touchpanels at a height comfortable for John and using occupancy sensors in key areas to a one-button setup to turn on the home theater, fast access and ease of use is the key. Additionally, Berrettini gave John and his wife some peace of mind by setting the system so the kids can only access controls for the lights, media and window shades. Remote access was also a top consideration, which is simple with the ELAN g! system. The family can now use the ELAN g! mobile app on nearly any mobile device to check their cameras, security, lights and HVAC from anywhere in the world.
Berrettini installed the home’s technology with help from local integrator Sandhills Home Theater, who provided unexpected free labor to help speed up the installation.
Masson has served in the US Army in Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm, in the Indiana Army National Guard, the Ohio Army National Guard and the 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne), and was deployed duringOperation Iraqi Freedom an Enduring Freedom. In 2010, while conducting Village Stability Operations in Afghanistan, Masson stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED) and lost an arm and both legs. Thanks to his training, he was able to assist his fellow Medical Sergeant in treating his wounds – actions which saved his life.