Trying to build a media center for my Autistic son - I need some advice please

stevetwood

Standard Member
I'm looking for advice please. My 20 year autistic old son lives full-time 150 miles away from us in a specialist college that caters for his very complex self-harming needs, he has no verbal language but is able to somehow make his needs known through signing or otherwise. He likes to retreat to his bedroom when things get too much for him in the college and he really enjoys a selection of Captain Scarlet, Thunderbirds and Disney VHS videos and DVDs. Trouble is, when he handles a DVD he gets sticky marks all over it and the way DVDs work is that you need to make multiple selections with the remote control to start the movie, which he's not capable of doing on his own, so he gets frustrated with it all and ends up either biting or scratching the DVD or damaging it in some way so that it doesn't play anymore. The videos get damaged through playing and he struggles to rewind them and not all his carers understand his sign for 'rewind my video please'. This leads to frustration too.

Here's what I am trying to build for him, and wondered if the good folks here can advise me or point me in the right direction. I want to build a tablet based media center for him where he can access a touchscreen with a series of icons that correspond to any one of his favourite films - he likes a core of 10 to 20 films, maximum, I want him to be simply able to touch an icon on the screen that represents one of his favourite movies and kicks off that movie with one touch and outputs the movie via HDMI straight to his TV.

The system would have to boot-up straight to this movie selection screen for him. What platform would folks suggest here? It needs to be touch type interface, with a built in USB or HDMI or TV output, a device with either an on-board HDD disk or SS memory - I would like to have up to 64GB disk or SS Memory? What OS is robust as this? He or his carers aren't always capable of a multi-step shut-down procedure, it needs to be switched on or off at the wall - that level of robustness without damamging the OS or system.

I have never ripped DVDs before, obviously the choice of DVD ripping software would depend upon the OS on the selected touch screen platform, anyone have any ideas here?

Cost isn't too much of an issue, but hoping spend less than 1000 GB pounds USD $1,500.Thanks for the advice
 

dpstjp

Novice Member
Have you considered that the alternative could be for him to watch his favourite films on the tablet?
 

next010

Distinguished Member
dpstjp is right actually putting the movies on a tablet is much better idea, the system your thinking about is complicated to setup with parts that can go wrong no matter which way you slice it.

Get an Android tablet with SDCard support, then encode all the movies into H.264/MP4 videos using Handbrake then use the Mizu app for Android which will give you coverart for movies and playback.
 

Krank

Distinguished Member
Will he like the idea of the fims not being physically there? Only asking as I work with some autistic children and some need to complete the whole process of choosing a film, taking it out of the box, putting it in the machine and then playing/rewinding/fast forwarding etc and then putting it away again.
 

stevetwood

Standard Member
Have you considered that the alternative could be for him to watch his favourite films on the tablet?

Thats exactly what I want, a robust Tablet OS, like Android etc that has minimal boot process and will boot to a screen with just an array of recognisable icons of his favourite films, one screen, 10-20 icons.

We found a Hanspree tablet today that would do just that, runs Android 2.2 will take a 32GB micro SD card and outputs HDMI movies to a TV, need to find an app that plays movies that we rip
 
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stevetwood

Standard Member
Will he like the idea of the fims not being physically there? Only asking as I work with some autistic children and some need to complete the whole process of choosing a film, taking it out of the box, putting it in the machine and then playing/rewinding/fast forwarding etc and then putting it away again.

Thanks for the input, I'm hoping he'll be fine. He doesn't have very good digit motor skills with his fingertips, so rewinding VHS videos is not a strength, he prefers to get others to rewind it for him, but if he can't make that carer understand what he means, he holds your hand and draws a tiny circle to indicate that he wants his video rewound. Its a subtle signal and as his carers constantly change on a monthly basis (6 shifts per day) its a frustrating challendge for him.
 

stevetwood

Standard Member
dpstjp is right actually putting the movies on a tablet is much better idea, the system your thinking about is complicated to setup with parts that can go wrong no matter which way you slice it.

Get an Android tablet with SDCard support, then encode all the movies into H.264/MP4 videos using Handbrake then use the Mizu app for Android which will give you coverart for movies and playback.

Thanks, we'll look at these apps to see if they'll help us on an Android 2.2 tablet.
 

next010

Distinguished Member
You can side load apps into Android tablets without market support but you need to get the .apk file first and for commercial apps this mean owning an Android device already, purchasing the app then using something like zroot explorer to copy the .apk file to an SDcard.

Futkeo sell some decent budget Chinese Android tablets like the Novo 7 and Bmorn V9 these some with Android market built in and will be getting updated to Android 4.0 unlike many other budget tablets.
 

bubblegum57

Well-known Member
Just a quick comment about tablets. I bought a EPad WM8650 (Silver) from futeko. This doesn't have hdmi output.
I found it very difficult to remove the micro sd card. So, I think your son will have problems.
I didn't need an app to play the movies. I just copied some to the microsd card. I had to re-encode a couple avi's because there was no sound.
 

juniperpansy

Standard Member
he holds your hand and draws a tiny circle to indicate that he wants his video rewound. Its a subtle signal and as his carers constantly change on a monthly basis (6 shifts per day) its a frustrating challendge for him.

OT: but can't you or one of his carergivers just put a big piece of paper on the wall next to the TV saying "Andrew's signs" (replacing 'Andrew' with your sons name) and then drawing the uniques signs your son uses?

Also if your son tends to be destructive/poor motor skills it would be a very good idea to get a tablet that you can get one of the indestructible cases for. Tablets tend break really easily if you drop them.
 
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hoppaz

Well-known Member
Do tablets work with touch screen monitors?

If they do you could output the tablet to one so your son could use a much bigger screen that would have bigger icons and button options which would make it easier to hit the correct button first time so less fustration for him.

I don't know the answer but if it is possible then it makes a lot of sense to me.
 

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