Phone the future by Claire Jones

Claire Jones at work in the lab

Phone the future builds on Lord Armstrong’s love of gadgets and early use of telephones in his home at Cragside. Taking inspiration from Alexander Graham Bell’s scientific research on acoustics and phonetics (through his own personal experience as a “teacher of the deaf”), it explores the means by which technology can be used to solve the communication barriers experienced by deaf people every day

Telling the story of the telephone’s evolution – from conception to the most cutting edge technology of tomorrow – Phone the future (1 August-4 November) presents the humble telephone in a new light, looking at current state of the art assistive technology such as online speech recognition software, and “talking gloves” which have the potential of translating
sign language to speech and text captions. Building on Alexander Graham Bell’s foundations for the world of communication, the exhibit invites you to discover how modern technology may be used not only to enhance the experience of those with hearing loss, but also to encompass a broader spectrum of communication beyond sound.

About the innovator

Claire Jones is a chemist and deaf advocate, whose research into synthesising new airsensitive
compounds is published in the journal Organometallics. She also signs British Sign Language (BSL) and American Sign Language (ASL), and cites one of her biggest achievements as overcoming the loneliness of trying to integrate within the mainstream school system as a deaf pupil. She is currently torn between a laboratory research career and a role with a wider overview of scientific development as a patent attorney.