Video Call project



I am starting to research the Raspberry Pi. Do not have a background in electronics only computer programming.

I have a disabled sibling with insufficient motor skills.
Looking to build some possible handy applications where he can hit a very large button due to his weak hand movements to do some handy functions like alert my phone or make an audible sound to indicate his need help with something.

My first idea is to have him hit a large button so that we can have a video call over his raspberry pi and my phone.

Have looked at


but that is just an application where you can talk but it does not have any option to alert me if Im elsewhere in the house(or away) and he wants to chat.

Seems skype no longer support a developer kit.

provide support (Not video though they said) for making phone calls for a fee.

Just wondering if anyone has ideas out there how to best do this?

Would it be energy consuming to have the raspberry pi on all the time?

My disabled sibling would not have the know how to turn it off.

Thank you


A Raspberry Pi 3 sitting ready to make a video call consumes about 2W, with an additional half watt overhead in the power supply. So for 24-hours a day, calculate the yearly cost as 2.5 (W) times 24 (h) times 365.25 (Wh) divided by 1000 (kWh) multiplied by your electricity price; $0.24 per kWh for me yields $5.26. Much less on solar.

Raspbian has all the open source software components you need to make this kind of thing work. If anything, there’s more choice than needed. But I don’t know how to integrate with whatever video calling app you’ll be running. WebRTC should be a good start.

Another option is to use an android mobile phone, configured for WiFi not mobile network, and a big button hooked up through bluetooth, along with an app that automatically starts the video call. But then you have to power the button as well.

Also check out Technical Aid to the Disabled. TAD does this sort of custom work, I’ve been a volunteer with the NSW branch. They can also provide guidance or information about an actual product that does it.


Thank you.

As long as its feasible perhaps I should just get the Raspobery pi and begin experimenting.



Thank you for everything

As a start is there a particular kit you recommend I purchase from

Or any reputed raspberry pi provider (preferably from Australia)

Obviously need some equipment to purchase to have a big button for disabled
sibling to hit which i dont knoe how to do.

Thank you


Yes, feasible. You’ll need to experiment quite a bit, but to begin with;

  • a Raspberry Pi 3,
  • a case,
  • a power supply,
  • a microSD card with the open source Raspbian (included in NOOBS, but downloading the most recent to an unused 16 GB card may be best),

Then add;

  • an HDMI monitor or TV,
  • a camera, e.g. the v2 one, or get a USB camera attached on top of TV,
  • a camera case, e.g. a clear one,
  • a Bluetooth handsfree unit; which has a microphone and speaker, and a way to keep it charged,

Then add the big button;

Or you might use a Bluetooth handsfree unit with a built-in call button, and rewire that to the big blue button.

As another alternative, you might use a small laptop or convertible tablet with a big button connected by USB cable, as that will simplify your integration of camera, monitor, microphone, and speakers, into something that other carers will automatically understand.