A YEAR 8 student from Newport has turned heads with his latest piece of engineering ingenuity – a fall monitoring system for elderly people who have dementia.

Freddie Howells, a pupil at Caerleon Comprehensive School, won the junior engineering category at this year's The Big Bang Competition, celebrating young people's achievements in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and maths).

The 14-year-old was inspired to create his Fall Alert project by his great aunt Pat, who is 89 and has dementia.

"Unfortunately, like many dementia sufferers, she falls quite frequently," Freddie said.

Although his aunt has an emergency call button, she doesn't always remember to press it.

"On a number of occasions, she's been found lying on the floor, several hours after her fall, by her carers," Freddie said.

To address this problem, Freddy set about designing an alert system which would contact families the instant a suspected fall was recorded.

His invention uses an accelerometer – the kind of motion-measuring tool found in many smartphones and modern video-game controllers – to track movement, and the system alerts family members if a fall is identified.

The programme then dispatches a robot – the Fallbot – to find the person in their home or, if they fall away from home, a GPS tracking device sends an alert to family members with a precise location on Google Maps.

Freddie, who is from Usk, hopes his Fall Alert system can help dementia sufferers whose chances of surviving falls improve greatly if they are found quickly.

Big Bang Competition organiser Hilary Leevers, the chief executive of EngineeringUK, congratulated him for his "innovative project".

Freddie was among 300 young people from across the UK selected for the finals of the competition, itself part of the annual Big Bang UK Young Scientists and Engineers Fair – though this year's fair was cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

He won £750, as well as a trophy and certificate, for his latest success.

The Fall Alert system builds on the young inventor's previous creation to help older people who have dementia.

Last year, the Argus reported how Freddie had designed a home security system – complete with facial recognition cameras – to help his great aunt Pat remember who she should let into her home.