Signals launches interactive semaphore website

interactive semaphore

Signals invites you to experiment with exciting new technology to play games and learn local history.

The new interactive website celebrates Tendring’s maritime heritage and connections with early experiments in long distance communication during the Napoleonic war.

‘Parents teaching their children at home can learn about local maritime heritage whilst also getting active and playing games’.

Frazer Merrick, Signals Education Coordinator

During the Napoleonic war the British grew envious of the French’s semaphore systems and began to develop their own. In the early 1800s various experiments took place along the Tendring coastline and along the chain of Martello towers and HMS Warning at Mersea Island. Visit the Signals blog to read more about Tendring’s maritime history.

The new website celebrates this history by re-imagining the technology to play games using a webcam and the various semaphore positions.


via GIPHY

Built by University of Essex MSc Artificial Intelligence student Benjamin Tilbury whilst on placement with Signals, the website uses a webcam to track arm movements and translate their position into semaphore signals. Players must spell words in time to prevent ships crashing into rocks or use the endless mode for creative writing with movement.


The semaphore website forms part of Signals’ ‘Talk Time’ project and is made possible with a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant. The wider project looks at the history of communications technologies in Tendring and how they have been used in its coastal communities during times of need, such as; semaphore in the Napoleonic war, RADAR in Walton during WW2, emergency warning systems in the 1953 floods and how people are using global tools for local connections during COVID-19.

Signals needs YOU!

Do you have stories, memories or knowledge relevant to the themes of Talk Time? Perhaps you learnt semaphore in the sea cadets, have postcards of the RADAR dish at Walton’s Naze Tower or have an interesting story about how you’ve kept in touch with loved ones during the pandemic.

Signals is looking for people to contribute to their upcoming Talk Time Podcast, if you have something to share please contact frazer_education@signals.org.uk.

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