Color through sound

Neil Harbisson, who has a condition that allows him to only see in black and white, gave a TED talk in Edinburgh last week about a device he’s been wearing that helps him perceive color. Pressed tightly against his skull, his “eyeborg,” as he calls it, is an antenna that translates colors into sound. Technically he still can’t “see” colors, but the eyeborg lets him hear what they sound like by converting light waves into sound vibrations.

This September Harbisson plans to have the eyeborg permanently implanted into his skull.

The New York Times reports:

The procedure is scheduled to be performed at the Germans Trias i Pujol hospital outside Barcelona, the city where Mr. Harbisson lives. Mr. Harbisson, who first approached doctors there in April 2011, said it had taken him over a year to persuade the hospital administration to allow the surgery to be performed. “I had to talk to the bioethical team,” he said.  Many other hospitals he approached thought his proposal was a joke. ”They were the only ones that were really interested,” he said.

While he was on stage at TED, he wore yellow pants and a blue shirt under a pink jacket. The effect of those colors on Harbisson amount to him hearing a C major chord. My guess is that he’s not a fan of paisleys or plaids.

About the author

Marc Sanchez is the technical director and associate producer for Marketplace Tech Report where he is responsible for shaping the sound of the show.
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