Home automation technology, in many cases, is a ‘nice to have’ addition to a house or flat, but some times it can really become a ‘must have’, particularly when an autonomous way of life depends on it. This was exactly the case for ex-stunt man David Holmes, who aged 25 broke his neck, whilst rehearsing a stunt for the popular Harry Potter film series, leaving him a level C6/7 Tetraplegic.
After his accident David made it his mission to create a home environment where he could restore his independence and transform his life from one of a disabled person, to one of an enabled-through-technology normal adult life.
He was passionate about making a space that didn’t feel clinical or that was instantly recognizable as disabled living but instead a space he could feel proud to invite family and friends to. He stresses how the design of disabled rooms within hotels seem to be an afterthought to the main design process with the rooms having a distinctively different feel and look than the rooms for the able bodied.
Going round in a wheel chair is not the easiest of tasks. If to this we add the fact that David’s hands are not fully functioning either, you would imagine that operating remote controls or iPads can seem like an impossible task. He had a clear vision that he didn’t want to have to be helped at every moment of his day and he wanted to be able to live alone in his own house.
David met with local AV installer Custom Sight & Sound (CSS), a Crestron integrator, to see what was possible for his new purpose build house. A lot of thought went into how to design the new build architectonically and how smart could this home be.
The five years project involved Mechanical and Electric engineers, architects, interior designer and CSS, who were involved right from the start.
Ian Bolt, managing director at CSS confesses that the fact that the project took such a long time to completion was advantageous for the client. ‘In five years technology evolves and Crestron has brought into the market superior products that not only were better suited to David’s needs but they also ended up being more economical.”
Crestron’s intuitive and reliable technology has proved totally life changing for David, now on his 30s. CSS embarked upon this transformational project with Crestron, and their solution uses as its foundation the Crestron App to bring together all the functionality of David’s home into an intuitive, touch-screen interface that took account of David’s physical limitations. This enabled David to have have had to rely on carers help. All the ‘simple’ things we take for granted such as turning on light, closing a blind or playing music were suddenly accessible to David and achievable alone through the iPad interface.
“We were engaged to work directly with David to design all aspects of the technology of a new build home,” explains Bolt, from CSS. “The goal was to create an automation system to win back the independence that he had lost, to release him from the need to have full time care and live on his own once again. The key to this project was a full Crestron solution. “
Large, sensitive Crestron TSW wall touch screen panels control the opening and closing of doors and windows, eliminating the need for handles, all whilst maintaining a stable and constant cooling and heating temperature.
Security was an added aspect that also had its own benefits, as David explains: “I love the fact that I can go to bed at night and feel safe. I can check my cameras and turn everything off. If I hear a noise I can turn a light on and check a camera. I have never had that before. I didn’t have that in hospital. There you have to bite down on a buzzer for someone to come and help you.”
David was determined not to let his disability define his future. With his hugely inspiring can-do attitude and positive nature, he was keen to use his experience as a way to help others and spread his infectious optimism to individuals who have experienced similar disabilities to himself. David is now an active Appeals Ambassador for the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital as well as the founder of Ripple Productions, a fantastic charity of his own.
Ripple Productions is a small, not-for-profit, production and events company that does some truly remarkable work to help others who have suffered from similar spinal injuries.
Crestron’s innovative technology has helped restore some of David’s independence and has offered him the opportunity, even if just for a short period, to escape his disability. He stated, “Inside this house my disability is not constant, or ever present”. With modern technology constantly evolving, creative solutions such as these that can have such a positive impact on an individual’s life, are ultimately invaluable.
This project was presented by CSS and Crestron, at the Crestron showroom at the Chelsea Design Centre in March 2017.