Antenna Implant Allows Colorblind Man to Hear Colors

Artist Neil Harbisson was born with achromatopsia, a condition that makes him completely color blind. However, since 2004 he has been able to sense colors through an electronic device. Harbisson recently had elective surgery that included having his head drilled four times so that the antenna, called an eyeborg, is now embedded into his skull.

The eyeborg takes advantage of the fact that both light and sound are made up of waves at various frequencies. The lens picks up colors and then a chip at the back of Harbisson’s head translates the particular color frequency to a corresponding sound. The sound is conducted to his inner ear through vibrations of bones in his skull. In this way, Harbisson is able to sense the difference between red (a low note corresponding to the bottom of the color spectrum) and purple (a high note at the top of the spectrum), and every color in between. In fact, he can perceive 360 shades of color.

Not only has the device helped with Harbisson’s visual disorder, but it has even given him superhuman senses. He uses his electronic implant to sense infrared and ultraviolet light, even though they are beyond the visible spectrum. He can also turn musical scores into paintings, or compose a song that represents a portrait of a face. Harbisson is so pleased with the way the antenna has improved his life that he created the Cyborg Foundation, which encourages humans to use technology to enhance their senses.

Source: Mashable | Business Insider
Image by Neil Harbisson via Flickr