Neil Harbisson is a color-blind artist who can now paint - in color - thanks to a cybernetic device called the Eyeborg which converts 360 colors into different sounds:
As an art student at Dartington College of Arts in Devon, he painted only in black and white because that is all he saw. But three years ago he met Adam Montandon, a cybernetics expert who came to give a lecture at the college.
After the talk, Montandon was told of Harbisson’s condition and he took up the challenge of solving the problem, enabling Harbisson to paint in colour. The artist suffers from achromatopsia – or complete congenital colour blindness.
Montandon decided to harness the way in which different colours reflect light at different frequencies, with light vibrating fastest from violet and slowest from red.
The first device fitted to Harbisson’s head was fairly primitive, letting him “hear” only six colours. His current model is far more sophisticated, giving him access to 360 colours.
Montandon created the Eyeborg system, manufactured by HMC Interactive, the design company in Plymouth that he co-founded. It is a head-mounted digital camera that reads the colours directly in front of it. The camera is connected to a laptop computer, carried in a backpack, which slows down the frequency of light waves to the frequency of sound waves. The computer then sends the “sound” of each colour to an earpiece worn by Harbisson. Montandon expects the system eventually to be as small as an MP3 player.
Previously on Neatorama: The Blind Painter