First antenna implanted on back of Skull, allows to hear color and connect to Internet

First antenna implanted on back of Skull, allows to hear color and connect to Internet

Harbisson was born completely colorblind and sees everything in grayscale. To get a of colors around him, Harbisson had an antenna implanted in his head that detects colors around him and sends him audible information about them via bone conduction.

The first implanted antenna was implanted in Neil Harbisson (UK), into the back of his skull, in 2004. The antenna allows Neil to effectively ‘hear colour’ as the antenna converts light waves into sound waves and transmits this to Neil’s . The antenna can also connect to the internet and receive telephone calls. Neil features in the Transhumanism section of our #GWR2018 book.

He was born with a rare form of colour blindness and cannot perceive any colours other than black and white. The antenna is attached to a camera that hangs in front of his eyes and converts colour – in the form of light waves – into sound waves that he can hear as musical notes.

The colour spectrum he can now hear runs from low notes, which appear as dark red to him, to high notes, which register as purple. Because Neil’s camera can perceive light waves at ultra high and low frequencies, he can sense ultraviolet and infrared light, colours that cannot normally be seen with the naked eye.

As an artist, he produces artworks from the colours that he ‘sees’ in famous pieces of music, and sound-portraits of famous people that you can hear. The antenna has recently been upgraded to include wireless connectivity, meaning he can both ‘hear’ the internet and take phone calls directly to his head.

“To me, the sky is always gray, flowers are always gray and television is still in black and white,” Harbisson explained at the start of his talk. “But since the age of 21, I can hear color instead of seeing color.”

Whenever he looks at a color, he hears a certain tone on the chromatic scale that he then associates with a given color. So for example, seeing red might trigger a C while seeing green might trigger an F Sharp. In the demonstration in his TED Talk, it sounds like these inputs are constantly flooding in, which seems like it would be extremely annoying. He’s apparently gotten used to it, however, because now he’s reached the point where he’s actually dreaming in color.

“When I started to dream in color is when I felt that the software and my brain had united,” he said. “Because in my dreams it was my brain creating electronic sound, it wasn’t the software.”

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