Neil Harbisson: I listen to color And The Renaissance of our Species

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Earlier this month I attended Reasons to: in Brighton. It’s been a fantastic 3 days full of information, insights and inspiration, in addition to getting to know a lot of nice and interesting people.

The talk that stood it in particular was Neil Harbisson’s The Renaissance of our Species. Right after that talk I tweeted:

Mind blown. By designing new senses cyborg Neil Harbisson is pushing the envelope of pushing the envelope

Neil was born with achromatopsia or total colour blindness. In 2003 he started a project that involved developing a sensor that could transpose colour frequencies into sounds and using an antenna attached to his skull feed those into his nervous system via bone conduction.

Apart from being able to see – or rather hear – colours for the first time this had a wide range of effects on how Neil perceives his environment. Not unlike synesthesia after he had become used to his colour hearing as part of his sensory input he started to form strong associations between colours and sounds and vice versa, to the extent that songs for him now have specific dominant colours to them or people and objects can sound – instead of look – good, happy or sad.

While the talks at Reasons to: aren’t recorded in 2012 Neil also did a TED talk. So, in order to give you a taste of his groundbreaking work here’s the recording from that talk:

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