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The Gary Sinise Foundation and Elan came together to create a custom home for a military veteran in need. 

On April 24, 2012, U.S. Army SSG Christopher Walker lost his left leg and both of his arms after being struck by an IED in Afghanistan. Walker was flown to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in May 2012, where he remained for more than two years. When the Gary Sinise Foundation’s Restoring Independence, Supporting Empowerment (RISE) program learned about Walker’s bravery, it honored him as the recipient of a fully customized specially adapted smart home.

The donated residence in Alexandria, Va., uses an ELAN Entertainment & Control System and other Core Brands technologies to offer a new level of independence for Walker and his family. “We were asked to install an easy-to-use smart home system that makes controlling audio, video, lighting, security and shade control easy with just a swipe on a tablet or in-wall touch panel,” says Jon Linville of Innovative AV, the integration firm responsible for the project. “The ELAN control platform is extremely user-intuitive, which is necessary for a project of this nature. The goal is seamlessness, and this system enables just that.”

Innovative AV was also tasked with building out an all-encompassing, yet easily manageable security system — a top priority for US Army SSG Walker and his family. “We integrated an ELK security system into ELAN for perimeter security and Axis security cameras so that he can access footage from anywhere at any time,” Linville explained. “Other life safety features like carbon monoxide detection are included so that US Army SSG Walker can rest assured that he and his family are safe.” 

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For entertainment, Innovative AV installed multi-room controllers to distribute audio and video throughout the residence. “We tied streaming music services, like Pandora and Spotify, into the system so that he can play whichever music he wanted throughout the house,” Linville says.  

Following the completion of the first stage of the project, Linville and his team installed three Amazon Echo Dots to integrate voice control into the system. This enables US Army SSG Walker to take advantage of the lighting, shade and television controls via voice command on a daily basis.

Since the smart-home technology has become such an integral feature in Walker’s residential life, it is extremely important that the system is protected against the danger of catastrophic power surges or outages. That’s why Innovative AV installed Panamax power conditioners and an uninterruptable power supply battery at the back of the equipment rack. “Especially when it comes to security, Walker wants access to his system all the time,” Linville explains. “A power surge would be an enormous disturbance.”

According to Judith Otter, executive director of the Gary Sinise Foundation, the smart home infrastructure has significantly helped Walker transition back to residential life. “Our goal is to provide American heroes with a completely customized specially adapted smart home that gives them as much independence as possible,” she says. “We thank Core Brands for generously donating the technology that redefines the homeowning experience for US Army SSG Christopher Walker.” 

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