Neil Harbisson is an artist. He spoke at TEDGLobal in Edinburgh in June.
In 2003, he began a project with computer scientist Adam Montandon with the aim of extending his senses. The result is an electronic eye: a color sensor between his eyes connected to a chip installed at the back of his head that transforms color frequencies into sound frequencies that I hear through his bone.
He has had the electronic eye permanently attached to his head and He has been listening to colors nonstop since 2004. So, He finds it completely normal now to hear colors all the time. At first, He had to memorize the sound of each color, but after some time this information became subliminal, He didn't have to think about the notes, color became a perception. And after some months, color became a feeling. He started to have favorite colors and he started to dream in color.
When he started to hear colors in his dreams, He noticed that his brain and the software had united and given him a new sense. His brain was creating electronic sounds in his dreams. That was the point when he started to feel no difference between the software and his brain.
Since he started to hear color, his life changed dramatically. The way he dresses has changed. Now, he dresses in a way that sounds good and his sense of beauty has changed, too. He also found out that things I thought were colorless are not colorless at all.
After some time, an unexpected secondary effect appeared. He started to perceive normal sounds as color too. So he started to paint the colors of music and the colors of voices. For example, telephone tones started to sound green, and listening to Mozart became a yellow experience, even people's voices had dominant colors.
Furthermore, Neil Harbisson was able to perceive 360 different colors, one for each degree of the color wheel. He was able to perceive colors just as well as people with color vision. Then he realized that the human visual system is not very impressive: you can't actually see many colors; there are many more colors around us that the human eye can't detect. So he decided to continue extending his color perception. Now, he can also perceive infrared, which means he can hear if there are movement detectors in a room, or if someone is pointing at him with a remote control.
I am in complete agreement with him. I think that we have the chance to extend our perception to the level of other animal species. We focus so much on extending our knowledge and focus so little on extending our senses. Without a doubt, knowledge comes from our senses because if we extend our senses, we extend our knowledge.
Furthermore, we are the first generation that doesn't need to wait for natural evolution to evolve because we can evolve during our lifetime.
We need to awake our senses, our instincts, our intuition and our qualities that we seem to have lost due to our constant use of technology as an external tool and not as part of our body.
'Life will be much more exciting when we stop creating apps for our mobile phones and we start creating apps for our own body''