Neil Harbisson’s Eyeborg

Neil Harbisson’s Eyeborg Maria Marrero Palm Beach State College Abstract This paper explores the new technological advances for people with Achromatopsia from research conducted mostly online. All of the research conducted explains the device on how it is used and what it is used for. It also shows how the sounds are conducted so the people using the eyeborg can understand it. Neil Harbisson’s Eyeborg Barcelona based artist, Neil Harbisson was born with a condition called Achromatopsia which means that he was born color-blind.

He has described himself as a cyborgist and colorologist. With the help of a new technological device that is attached to the back of his skull can translate color to sound. Harbisson can hear the color of sound through audible frequencies through this device in which he calls an “eyeborg”. Harbisson has used the term sonochromatism (or sonochromatopsia) to define his new condition. He explains that “achromatopsia can no longer define his condition because achromatopsics cannot perceive nor distinguish colors.

He also explains that synesthesia does not define his condition accurately because the relation between color and sound varies depending on each person, whereas sonochromatopsia is an extra sense that relates color to sound objectively and equally to everyone” (Harbisson, 2012). The idea for the device came about when he was attending Dartmouth College of Arts in England, where Harbisson met Adam Montandon  who was giving a lecture on cybernetics and they [came together] to start developing the eyeborg project (Disaster, 2012).

The device, called an eyeborg, comes out of the back of his head and hangs in front of his eyebrow. Jennifer Lee, writing for the New York Times, says: Mr. Harbisson’s current eyeborg is pressed against the base of his head with extremely high pressure, which allows the sounds to reverberate along his skull to his eardrums. But his new eyeborg, to be implanted in September, will be connected to his body through three screws in his head — two to support the antenna and electronic chip, and a third for the sound to be passed into his skull, which will vibrate with the sound.

He expects it will take about two months for the bone to heal around the implant. (Lee, 2012) According to Jordan Chittley, he states that a chip that is implanted in Harbisson’s skull and then converts the light waves into sounds and he hears it through his bone. “The eyeborg works with a head mounted camera that picks up the colors directly in front of a person, and converts them in real-time into sound waves” (Neil, 2012). C on the scale represents blue, F represents red, A represents green and so on (Chittley, 2012).

Harbisson can see up to a total of 360 colors, which is more than the naked eye can see. The first eyeborg had a computer component [which was] the size of a laptop and Harbisson [carried it] around in a back pack (Molinsky, 2011). “We are using technology constantly. Every single day we wear technology in our pockets, we sleep with technology beside our beds — we never separate from technology. The simple next step is to attach all this to our body” (Molinsky, 2011). Harbisson uses his eyeborg to help him paint in color.

Harbisson states that the “eyeborg looks like an antenna that comes out from my head and goes up to the front of my face. At the back of my head there’s a chip which transforms the light waves into sound, and I hear the colors, not through my ears but through my bone” (Harbisson, 2012). The spreading of the cyborg devices are being realized particularly with vision. Earlier this year in Britain, surgeons [have] implanted chips in the eyes of patients with retinitis pigmentosa, [which is] a disease that causes gradual blindness, in order to [stop] and reverse their condition (Lee, 2012).

When he spoke with the hospital bioethics committee, Mr. Harbisson argued that this surgical technique could be used on other people (Lee, 2012). He said, in particular, that a more [refined, classier] versions of the sensor could be used for reading, [like for example] the need for Braille (Lee, 2012). According to Eric Molinsky, Harbisson uses [his] eyeborg to help him paint in color. He also states that Harbisson create[d] sound portraits by scanning people’s faces and turning the resulting tones into short musical compositions (Molinsky, 2011).

Some of his subjects are [his] friends and family, while others are celebrities he had met [previously] (Molinsky, 2011). Harbisson believes that the eyeborg and [other] devices like [itself] should not only be used for people with disabilities. In his opinion, no one should be restricted to the senses that us humans have developed (Molinsky, 2011). Jennifer Lee states that Harbisson wants to see more improvements to his eyeborg, focusing mainly on the electricity source (Lee, 2012).

He has to change the antenna through a USB port at the back of his head (Lee, 2012). He does not want to depend on electricity. . References Chittley, J. (2012, February 20). Eyeborg neil harbisson hears colour with head-mounted camera. Retrieved from http://ca. news. yahoo. com/blogs/daily-buzz/eyeborg-neil-harbisson-hears-colour-head-mounted-camera-193727166. html Disaster. (2012, September 19). I listen to color: How sound is bringing neil harbisson one step closer to cyborg status. Retrieved from http://shocklee. om/2012/09/i-listen-to-color-how-sound-is-bringing-neil-harbisson-one-step-closer-to-cyborg-status/ Harbisson, N. (2012, February 12). The man who hears color. BBC News Magazine, Retrieved from http://www. bbc. co. uk/news/magazine-16681630 Harbisson, N. (2012, February 24). Neil harbisson: The eyeborg. Retrieved from http://reset-blog. com/2012/02/24/neil-harbisson-the-eyeborg/ Lee, J. (2012, July 2). A surgical implant for seeing colors through sound. New York Times, Retrieved from

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