You may have heard of the neurological condition synaesthesia – a bizarre and peculiar phenomena which causes those afflicted to have one or more of their cognitive pathways mixed up. In some cases synesthetes, as they are known, report perceiving certain letters or numbers as colours, or days of the week exhibiting particular personalities. Other synasthetes report seeing colour when hearing particular sounds, or even tasting colour.
To laymen and experts alike, synesthesia is a baffling condition which struggles to be defined (see Wikipedia’s entry) and the prospect of hearing colour is a beguilingly alien concept to most. But thanks to revolutionary advances in neurotechnology, this synaesthetic concept of melding senses has given a new lease of life to Neil Harbisson.
“Before I used to dress in a way that looked good, now I dress in a way that sounds good.” – Neil Harbisson.
Born completely colour blind, Harbisson can now hear colour by using a camera which changes colour into tones which vibrate against his skull. A fierce advocate of cyborgs and the partnership of technology with the human body, Harbisson speaks at length in an address to the TED conference in Edinburgh about the changes his eyeborg has made to his life. We also hear the frequencies he hears to identify colours.
Harbisson is one of a growing number of people harnessing technology to an extent where their digital accessories are seen as part of their anatomy.
Harbisson is the founder of The Cyborg Foundation, a nonprofit organisation who help people extend their senses through cybernetics.
Video and info via TED
If you liked this, you MUST check out real life cyborgs.