Help designing remote system to teach autistic adult child


New Member
I am an electrical contractor who also does security and lighting control on commercial projects and plays with home control systems at my own house.
We have a friend who has asked for assistance with a beautiful project but it could go in hundreds of directions and was wondering if anyone might be willing to offer ideas.  
Basically, the state has moved him about an hour from her house and she works full time and is no longer able to visit him everyday. She wants to give him a feeling of some empowerment and be able to stay close with him with the below variables.
Project logistics
Two locations:
Developmentally disabled Adult son in group care home.  He is blind and autistic with about  a 4 year old mentality.
Mother is in second location an hour drive away
1) Mother wants son to be able to push a button at his residence that rings her phone and alerts her to his needs.   This button, or initiation device must be able to withstand cleaning  by the home workers and rough handling by the disabled son.
2) Mother wants it to ring her phone so she can answer if available, or send it to a machine if not available, or if son calls at an extra late hour.
When available she wants to:
3) Communicate with him in his room via speakers
4) See him in his room 
5) See any others who may be in the room with him (she has permission to do this with the home owner)
Situations that may arise that should would like to be able to respond from:
6) She may be at home and want to use the TV to see and communicate with him.
7) She may be at home and want to use the computer to see and communicate with him
8) She may be on the road and want to see and communicate with him on a tablet or smart phone
The communication she envisions is sharing music and websites with him.
9) She wants an excellent in ceiling speaker system so she can share orchestra type music, he is moved with very good music.  In this regard she would like his system to have a home theatre aspect to it.  (So she can share good music with him, "watch" movies with him, or when his friends come buy they could watch movies together.
10) She wants to remotely teach him from websites they enjoy together, which means having the website videos play and music play, or if he has friends over, she could control it all from her place.
11) She wants to be able to set music for him in the morning, he really enjoys music but relies on the healthcare workers to set it up and they have often left him set up with music that disturbs him.
Other factors:
12) He is rough on items and equipment, they must be protected from him
13) He cannot be allowed to control the computer or turn on the system at an inappropriate hour.
We are leaning towards using a home security system for the communication and a remote computer desktop controller, but this doesnt seem elegant to me.  I would love one system to do it all!
This might be a few years to early still.
Thanks in advance if you have any ideas.
You're going to need some software people.  For hardware, a PC with remote desktop, a kinect, an external amp for the speakers and a large USB pushbutton would pretty much take care of it.  A monitor could be added for the benefit of the sighted.  The rest is all software.  If you could get a local high school or college student group or hackerspace involved in designing the system it would be good.  The kinect would allow for a lot of interesting interactive possibilities through gesture recognition and has a powerful microphone with available speech recognition APIs as well.
There doesn't exist a solution to do all that just within one room, let alone remotely.  There's a lot of tech that has to be tied together, much of which isn't designed to have that done to it.  The simplest way to start might be by remote controlling a PC.  One that could be connected to a TV in the room.  Set it up with a Skype account and configure it to auto answer (only from addresses already in it's contact list).  That'll get you the camera into the room.  
There are some TVs out there that have Skype built-in but they don't usually offer a way to do automatic answering.  Nor would they have an easy way to handle integrating with the 'one button call out' sort of idea.  
For that you could probably rig up a device that the PC would see as a keyboard.  Then it'd be a matter of programming one of a number of different kind of remote control programs.  Ones that would be able to trigger actions within programs to do the call out ideas.
Given it's a PC then being able to remotely control it would be relatively simple.  And that could be used as a way to 'reach into' the PC to get it to do things that can't be as readily automated.
Something small like an Intel NUC-based solution would be where I'd start.  Given it's a 3rd party care situation you'd definitely want to put emphasis on being able to lock it down or otherwise secure it against tampering/misuse/theft.