A CLEVER young coder has developed a system to intruder-proof the home of his 88-year-old great aunt who suffers from dementia.

Freddie Howells, who was recently named Junior Engineer of the Year at the Big Bang UK Young Scientists and Engineers Fair, came up with the idea to help his great aunt Pat remember who she should let into her house.

“My project is a complete home monitoring system for the elderly,” said the 13-year-old.

South Wales Argus:

“I developed the system because my great aunt Pat lives alone and has dementia. Our problem was that she kept letting in random strangers and could never remember when people had entered her house.”

The Caerleon Comprehensive student’s state-of-the-art system employs technology the sort of which wouldn’t look out of place in a spy movie.

A motion sensor, when triggered, activates a camera to take a picture of the person at the door. This picture is then scanned against a database of known faces using facial-recognition algorithms. If there is a match, the visitor will be prompted to scan their ID tag. If the tag and the facial scan match, the door will open.

“The Raspberry Pi in the door system will send a message to the one inside the house which will then play an audio message to say who is coming in”, said Freddie.

“Something like 'Hi Auntie Pat, it’s Freddie. I’m coming in'.

“I’ve used the actual person’s voice too instead of a robotic one because that will help her remember.”

Also included in the extremely sophisticated system are a temperature and humidity sensor.

“I’d noticed that auntie Pat had forgotten to turn on the fan sometimes because she didn’t realise when she was getting too hot,” said Freddie.

“If the house gets above a certain temperature it will automatically turn on the fan.”

There is also a motion sensor in the house. If no motion has been detected for a set period, the family will receive a text message prompting them to look at a web stream to check the person is ok.

Coupled with this is an intercom system which Freddie has created himself.

This allows the resident to call for help without having to pick up the phone.

Freddie took the prototype of his system to the Big Bang Fair at the NEC in Birmingham earlier this year.

Such was the interest and acclaim he received, he was named Junior Engineer of the Year and was also presented with the Siemens Digital Award.

His dad, Meirion, said: “He also won a lot of money and a trip to Arizona for an educational scheme in conjunction with the Intel Science Fair.

“Some of the Big Bang Fair winners in the older categories are participating but Freddie just gets to look around this time, which is much nicer in a way, there’s not as much pressure.”

“We’d been to the Big Bang Fair before, it’s lovely,” said mum Sarah.

“It’s like a careers fair aimed at STEM subjects.

“We found out about the competition through my work with the coding club at the primary school (Usk Church in Wales Primary).”

In December of last year Freddie discovered that he’d made it into the final stage of the competition.

“There were around 250 finalists, so it was huge,” said Mrs Howells.

Freddie’s creativity with code seems to show no bounds and his parents are backing him to continue finding solutions to problems which can be fixed with technology.

“Freddie’s really good at solving problems. I think that’s his forte,” said Mrs Howells.

“He’s always saying, 'I can make something to solve that'.