The Current

'Cyborg' hears the colours he cannot see: 'I don't feel I'm wearing technology ... I feel I am technology.'

The Current launches its "By Design" series with a man who calls himself a cyborg because of the brain implant he designed that allows him to him "hear" colour.
He calls himself a Cyborg and he wears an Eyeborg ... a surgically implanted device that has given him a sixth sense - the ability to hear colour. Neil Harbisson's efforts to fuse technology into his very being raise opportunities and hard questions.

Meet a man whose inability to register something most of us take for granted has inspired a new way to look at the world and our own bodies.

Self-described cyborg, Neil Harbisson fuses technology and a surgically implanted device that gives him the ability to hear colour.

Harbisson thinks the future of humanity lies in taking control of our own design: using technology to enhance ourselves. He has that antenna surgically implanted in his bones so he could experience colour.

He was born with achromatopsia, a condition which affects about 1 in every 33,000 people and leaves them unable to see colours. So Harbisson's camera records the colours and translates them into sounds.

Want to hear what Anna Maria sounds like to Neil Harbisson?

Here is Harbisson meeting Anna Maria in our studio. What he does is note down the dominant colours in someone's face and then he makes an audio portrait from the notes that correspond to those colours.

Harbisson can't turn off his new sense. Unless he goes somewhere that is completely dark, he is constantly bombarded with sound. And even in a dark room, he hears tones from near-infrared and near-ultraviolet light — frequencies well beyond what we can see.

Below are paintings by Neil Harbisson correlating to what Neil sees when listening to the songs listed:

  Justin Beiber's,  Baby

Martin Luther King's speech, I Have a Dream

This segment was produced by The Current's Gord Westmacott,


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