Color Vision through a Sound Implant

Neil Harbisson suffers from achromatopsia (seeing everything in shades of gray instead of color). He’s got a head-mounted device called an eyeborg to help him perceive color. The device converts colors into sound waves, which are transmitted to his inner ear via a vibration mechanism on the back of his skull. According to io9, he says:

“Each colour has a specific frequency that I can hear because of the Eyeborg. Infrared is the lowest sound and ultraviolet is the highest sound. I hear them through bone conduction. Basically, the sound goes to the back of the head and then my inner ear hears the different sine waves.”

Harbisson and eyeborg

Photo by Dan Wilton / Dezeen Magazine.

Apparently the merging of man and machine has gone well:

“Harbisson felt that the device was fully integrated into his sense of self when he began to have emotional responses to colors in his environment. He also says that he ‘dreams’ of color. Certain faces and buildings are particularly musical for him — their combinations of tones and colors create sounds that Harbisson finds pleasing.”

Full article on io9; see also article and more photos by Dan Wilton at Dezeen Magazine.

“Seeing” color as sound – that’s so fascinating!