PETALUMA, CALIFORNIA, September 26, 2017 — After experiencing the benefits of the Nice/ELAN smart home control system in her 10,000-square-foot home for more than a decade, one Ohio homeowner recently took the advice of her property manager and upgraded to the new Nice/ELAN 8 software to immediately take advantage of its voice control through Amazon’s Alexa-capable devices.
“As the property manager, I’m always looking to help the homeowner simplify household tasks,” Christopher Parker said. “That’s why I introduced her to Amazon Echo for everyday things like checking the weather or traffic. Soon we had seven Amazon Echos and Echo Dots spread around the home. When I learned that the Nice/ELAN 8 software allowed Amazon’s devices to communicate with the home control system and offer voice control of the whole home, I quickly contacted Ohio integration firm Sundance LTD to see if it could enhance the homeowner’s daily life. The team at Sundance had done a fantastic job with the home’s control system over the past 12 years, and I was excited to see what they could do with this.”
After speaking with Sundance LTD, Parker agreed they should start slow and integrate some heavily used functions, including lights and TV power in a few rooms. Videos shot by Sundance LTD and shared on Facebook show a common voice-activated functions.
In a home this large, the possibilities for voice control are substantial. The ability to quickly shut off the lights, TVs and audio systems with a voice command can save time and energy every day, and intelligent lighting groupings could be created to guide the owner from the living room to the bedroom with a single phrase. All in all, the Nice/ELAN system ties together the home’s 384-load Vantage lighting system, 24 zones of multi-room audio distributed through three Nice/ELAN S1616A amplifiers, dozens of motorized drapes and shades, seven TVs including two motorized sets, an M1 security system, two overhead garage doors, and a front door video intercom.
Sovacool is quick to note that some functions are still easier to accomplish with remotes or touch panels than with voice, which is why Nice/ELAN’s app and remotes are important. Changing volume or scrolling TV channels, for instance, is much faster and simpler with a traditional remote than repeatedly saying “Alexa, living room TV volume up”. Additionally, Nice/ELAN’s mobile app offers access from anywhere, and in-wall touch panels provide an “always-on” interface and video display.
“Voice controls are great for some of the most common functions, but you can’t see who’s ringing the doorbell without a video screen,” Sovacool added. “Likewise, if you want to change presets for lights or shades, it’s much easier to do on a touchscreen where you can easily move things around and quickly switch between rooms. The mobile app will also never go out of style, because it lets you access the system from anywhere in the world. There’s peace of mind that comes with that.”
In addition to the new voice controls and Nice/ELAN mobile app, the owner and property manager regularly use Nice/ELAN HR200 remotes to control the entertainment. According to Parker, usability is the top concern, and having multiple input devices ensure that they always have the right tool for the job.
“ELAN has done a great job making their system reliable and upgradeable. I know we’ll continue to see new features and integration with new technologies that expand its capabilities,” Parker added. “In the end, the most important thing is that it works. So far the Alexa integration has worked flawlessly, and I expect we’ll be hearing a lot more about Nice/ELAN’s voice-controlled solutions.”