A SCHOOLBOY from Usk has been named as a finalist in the UK-wide Young Pioneer Award - after he intruder proofed his aunt's house using facial recognition technology.

Freddie Howells, a 13-year old from Usk, reached the final thanks to his invention Door Pi Plus, a facial recognition door-entry system which he developed to help protect elderly or vulnerable adults.

Freddie, a student at Caerleon Comprehensive, developed the project initially to help his great aunt Pat who is 88 and lives at home with dementia. He has previously been named Junior Engineer of the Year and was also presented with the Siemens Digital Award, at last year's Big Bang Fair in Birmingham.

Using a Raspberry Pi minicomputer and a small camera, the system ensures only authorised ‘safe faces’ are allowed in and out of a property at certain times (and even provides text alerts to families for extra peace of mind), crucial for dementia patients at home.

"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," said Freddie.

“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'."


The finalists were announced at a special event at the BT Tower in London this afternoon. This year’s awards aimed to showcase a future generation of young people already using digital technology in creative ways to better the lives of others.

The award winners will receive £5,000 of tech to help up-scale their project, as well as focused session with BT experts, to help develop their ideas and inventions.

All of the finalists will receive tickets to explore Bletchley Park, the once top-secret home of Second World War codebreakers.

Winners will be announced at the annual awards ceremony on 17th July, hosted by BT in central London.