Oregon integrator jumpstarts business with ELAN voice control
Source: Nortek Security & Control
For Mike Elsberry, owner of A&E Security in McMinnville, Oregon, voice control may be the single most influential technology of this decade. When the ELAN Control System
added support for Alexa voice control in 2017, Elsberry saw the tides turning and decided it was time for A&E to become a full-fledged home automation integrator, expanding on the company’s audio, video and security services that made it successful for the past 50 years.
After becoming an ELAN dealer in mid-2018, A&E quickly upgraded two of its three experience rooms to use the ELAN system and add voice control functionality. The results were both immediate and profound.
“We used to lead client conversations with lower cost materials,” Elsberry said. “Now our ELAN voice-controlled experience rooms give the sales pitch themselves - literally. I programmed full responses to common questions about home and conference room automation, so when a potential client walks in and asks, “Alexa, how do I control the shades?”, the room actually answers and explains what voice commands can be used. It absolutely blows people away. Heck, it still blows me away.”
With this one function, Elsberry proves to clients that there is no longer any knowledge barrier to home and business automation. They don’t need to know about the advanced communication protocols between equipment, they don’t need to navigate complex interfaces, and they don’t need to worry about new visitors being unable to turn on the lights or TV.
“One of the most common complaints we get from business customers is that their conference room is difficult to operate and requires instruction and frequent help,” Elsberry said. “With ELAN, they can walk into their conference room, say something like “Alexa, we’re having a meeting,” and watch the lights turn on, the shades drop, and the TV and videoconferencing equipment boot up, automatically. Anyone can do it. And following my showcase of pre-programmed educational responses in our experience room, our clients can potentially offer guided explanations of their rooms to guarantee smooth operation for new users.”
Voice control has progressed so much since 2010, when Apple introduced Siri to mainstream consumers, that many people now start their home or business control conversations by asking about voice control. However, it’s important for integrators and buyers of advanced automation systems to understand that Alexa by itself is not the complete solution. Sure, it can tell you what movies are playing, make a shopping list, and “Call Mom,” but it’s the power and intelligence of ELAN that allows A&E Security to control entire rooms with a single voice command.
Voice control is an excellent conversation starter and sales tool, but Elsberry also recognizes that it isn’t the be-all end-all for control interfaces. Handheld remotes are still the fastest, easiest, most reliable interfaces for TV and media room control, wall-mount or tabletop touch panels provide large, bright screens that are always on, and the ELAN smartphone app provides instant control from any corner of the globe with an internet connection.
“At first, prospective clients would enter our experience room and get sidetracked with questions about Alexa because we had an Amazon-branded speaker in the room,” Elsberry admitted. “Now we are using the new ELAN Intelligent Touch Panel. Not only can clients speak to Alexa directly through the ELAN panel, but when we demo the personalization enabled through the panel’s face recognition it absolutely blows them away!”
Elsberry added, “ELAN has the all the power anyone will ever need for a home or small business, it integrates with virtually every peripheral system my customers need, and the control interface is as simple as any phone app. It’s even become an upselling product for our existing customers who already have integrated audio, video or security, and want better control or a cleaner aesthetic in their rooms. That’s extra business we otherwise wouldn’t be doing, period. And for new business, our quote values are, on average, 25 percent higher than a year ago. Becoming an ELAN dealer has opened huge opportunities for my company.”