Cyborg Man Can Paint Mozart And People's Voices With Antenna Implant

This man can HEAR colors.

Neil Harbisson might be a self-described "cyborg," but that doesn't mean he's a billionaire tech entrepreneur.

He's actually a Barcelona-based artist with achromatopsia, a visual disorder that renders him colorblind.


As he explained in a 2012 TED Talk, his world looks a lot like this:

"I've never seen color, and I don't know what color looks like, because I come from a grayscale world," Harbisson said during the talk. "To me, the sky is always gray, flowers are always gray, and television is still in black and white."

In 2003, he began working with scientists to install an electronic eye on his head

The eye translates the color frequencies it sees into sound frequencies that he can hear.

Each color has its own frequency, which Harbisson had to memorize in order to understand what color his electronic eye was identifying. Now he can differentiate between hues.

"Life has changed dramatically since I hear color, because color is almost everywhere, so the biggest change for example is going to an art gallery, I can listen to a Picasso, for example," he said. 

In total, the artist says he can perceive 360 colors, in addition to infrared and ultraviolet light.  

Harbisson can also use his newfound knowledge of color frequencies to visualize the music he's listening to.

This is what Mozart looks like to Harbisson.

It's worth noting that some people with synesthesia, a neurological phenomenon which occurs when generally separate senses overlap, are also able to see sounds in color, even without the assistance of an "eyeborg." Kanye West counts himself among the few.

A year ago, Harbisson upgraded his antenna so he can now connect to bluetooth and Wi-Fi.

"I have phone calls to my head," he told The Guardian in an interview. "I can either connect to devices that are near me, or I can connect to the internet. So I can actually connect to anywhere in the world."

Harbisson's hard-won passport photo where he was allowed to pose with his electronic eye.

If you want to find out more about Harbisson and how he hears colors, watch his TED Talk below.

You can also catch this piece CNN did about Harbisson.

He also started the "Cyborg Foundation". You can learn more in Business Insider's "Game Changers" video series.


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