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Sight and Sound: Eyeborg gives man ability to hear colors

A man born with an eye condition can “see” color for the first time. 30 year old artist and musician, Neil Harbisson, was born with a rare condition called achromatopsia, that causes him to see the world in only black and white.

Since 2004, and with the help of a handy little device, Harbisson has been experiencing a world of color.
The device, which Harbisson calls the “Eyeborg,” translates around 360 different hues into audible tones that are feed directly into Harbisson’s inner ear by bone conduction. That’s significantly less than a normal human eye, but it’s an amazing advancement to go from only black and white to experiencing color.

The Eyeborg reads the different wave lengths that to a normal eye, reads as colors, and transposes them in to beeps. Each wave length or color has a corresponding sound. Harbisson has gotten so adept at processing this information, that he had been able to create what he calls sound portraits.

Harbisson is just one of the many creative individuals that are creating a new understanding of humanity. The combining of technology and physical being is the stuff of many science fiction novels and movies, but more and more, the idea of the “cyborg” as a human evolutionary path is becoming more of a reality.

Photo courtesy of Neil Harbisson
Video courtesy of  TED.org

Ian Francis

Brooklyn-based designer enamored with all things design & technology.

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