Neil Harbisson's "eyeborg" allows him to hear colors, even those beyond the range of sight.

Why you should listen

Born with the inability to see color, Neil Harbisson wears a prosthetic device — he calls it an "eyeborg" — that allows him to hear the spectrum, even those colors beyond the range of human sight. His unique experience of color informs his artwork — which, until he met cyberneticist Adam Montandon at a college lecture, was strictly black-and-white. By working with Montandon, and later with Peter Kese, Harbisson helped design a lightweight eyepiece that he wears on his forehead that transposes the light frequencies of color hues into sound frequencies.

Harbisson's artwork blurs the boundaries between sight and sound. In his Sound Portraits series, he listens to the colors of faces to create a microtonal chord. In the City Colours project, he expresses the capital cities of Europe in two colors (Monaco is azure and salmon pink; Bratislava yellow and turquoise).

What others say

“Conclusively, this project exists not in the software, or domain of so called 'virtual' reality, but in the reality of Neil’s perception of the world, unveiling, quite literally, an invisible architecture of energy.” — Adam Montandon

Neil Harbisson’s TED talk

More news and ideas from Neil Harbisson


TED Weekends hacks our senses

July 27, 2013

Does listening to music generate colors in your mind? Do bright, lively songs sound yellow or orange while darker, more somber ones sound dark blue and grey? Well, for artist Neil Harbisson, this happens the other way around. Colorblind since birth, Harbisson has sported an electronic eye since 2004 that fits over the top of […]

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The sound of color: Neil Harbisson’s talk visualized

July 11, 2013

Colorblind artist Neil Harbisson is an intrepid “eyeborg” wearer. That’s a device that converts color into audible frequencies, meaning that Harbisson gets to hear a symphony of color, instead of seeing a world only in grayscale. Below, Harbisson’s talk from TEDGlobal 2012 gets the graphic treatment in a beautiful chart that shows precisely which colors sound which musical notes for him. This is […]

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