Mar. 18 - A Spanish artist, colorblind since birth, uses a special antenna connected to his head to hear color as musical notes, Tara Cleary reports.
Most colorblind people perceive some hues, even if defectively. But artist Neil Harbisson has achromatopsia, which means he sees no color. Though thanks to an antenna known as an eyeborg, Harbisson's ears have taken on the role of discerning color. The eyeborg detects different parts of the color spectrum, interprets them and then transmits messages to Harbisson's brain, which translates the visual signals into sounds that are sensed by the cochlea in his ears. SOUNDBITE: Neil Harbisson, colorblind artist, saying (English): "So instead of using my ears to hear color, I use my bone and then my inner ear hears color, so it's a different type of sound perception, it's visual sounds that go through bone conduction." Born in the UK and raised in Spain, Harbisson developed the device with a fellow university student. In 2004, he had the eyeborg permanently attached to his head and since then he's had 10 different antennas. SOUNDBITE: Neil Harbisson, colorblind artist, saying (English): "When I look at art I can hear the art piece, so, to me, painters have become composers." Harbisson recently took his aural color perception a step further -- he conducted a choir and string quartet in a musical light show in Spain, using colors instead of written music.