Meet the World’s First Cyborg, a Man Who Hears the World’s Colors

This is one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever come across. A man called Neil Harbisson, who was born with a rare condition that causes complete colour blindness, developed a technology that translates colors into sounds for him.

This also makes him a cyborg (short for “cybernetic organism”, is a being with both organic and cybernetic parts), and even his passport photo now includes his device.

“One day I started hearing colors in my dreams. Then I understood what being a cyborg meant. It’s not the union between the eyeborg and my head, what converts me into a cyborg, but the union between the software and my brain. My body and the technology have united. It’s very very human to modify one’s body with human creations.”

CYBORG FOUNDATION | Rafel Duran Torrent from Focus Forward Films on Vimeo.

Of course, the video gave me butterflies. If I had a change to electronically modify parts of my body to enhance my abilities, I’d do it in a heartbeat. I also have the natural tendency to “see” sound, being a very strongly visual person averse to lots of noises.

The beauty of all this though is that in 2010, Neil Harbisson and Moon Ribas created the Cyborg Foundation, an international organization to help humans become cyborgs. The foundation has also experimented with other sensory devices, including an “earborg,” which translates sound into color, and a “speedborg,” which allows people to detect movement through electronic earrings that vibrate. You know what that means? We might actually have the chance to become cyborgs.

Would you, if you could?

[Via Kottke]






3 Comments »

  1. Craig

    February 15, 2013 @ 2:54 am

    Well, there’s a fine line between being cybernetically enhanced and being an effing cyborg, isn’t there? I definitely want my neural interface so I don’t have to mess with external tech anymore, but I’d only go the full blown freakish cyborg route if I could live forever.

  2. khalidjarrar

    February 17, 2013 @ 12:13 am

    Roba, since this amused you let me open your eyes to another cool thing,

    There is a full documentary on youtube, one of the episodes of SuperHumans, about a percentage of people one earth who were born with funny electric wiring in their brains, that connects different areas of senses that are not usually connected. Result? one of them tastes music, every note has a particulat taste that he knows fully well, every letter in language has a different taste too, your name would give him a particular flavor when he says it. Another sees noise, in the form of colorful patterns. A third one sees numbers when any math problem is presented to him, without even doing a concious effort to solve it, he actually and before cameras recited 20 000 digits after il fa9lih when he was asked about the mathematical value of pie. and he did it before a team of math students carrying the actual number and following up with him. not a single mistake. 20 000 digits Roba.

    go check it you would go crazy over it!

  3. Roba

    February 17, 2013 @ 10:08 am

    Coooool, I’ll check it out :)

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