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Seeing things in a different light
Neil Harbisson
Neil Harbisson using the device to 'see' the colours of his painting.
A Devon inventor has come up with a revolutionary device to help people who are colour blind to identify colours.

Reporter Greg Wade has been to see the device in action.
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Imagine a world where you couldn't see any colour, and where oranges were grey and red peppers were an even darker grey.

Well for many who are colour blind - whether partially or fully - that is their reality.

But that is about to change, thanks to a new invention from a Plymouth inventor.

Adam Montandon has used computer technology to produce a device called an Eye-Borg, which enables people to hear the sound of a colour.

Adam Montandon
Adam Montandon
For example, blue creates a high sound, while red creates a low sound.

Neil Harbisson, an art student from Spain who is based in Dartington, South Devon, is the first person in the country to be equipped with the device.

He suffers from total colour blindness, so for him the device is especially useful. B
eing an artist and a musician, visuals and sounds are very important to Neil.

When he first got the device he often spent an hour in the fruit or flower section of a supermarket - just so he could experience for the first time the sound of the vibrant colours.

The Eye-Borg consists of a digital camera and a backpack which contains the computer and headset for Neil to listen to colours.

Neil said: "It has completely changed the way I see the world and the way I perceive things. Everything has an extra layer.

Neil identifying the colour of veg
Neil can now identify the colour of fruit and veg

"I can go out and buy red peppers now, which I couldn't do before - I had to ask."

Eventually, Adam hopes to produce a miniature version, maybe shrinking it to the size of a mobile phone or eye glasses.

The device has all sorts of uses - from the electrician who is colour blind, to the artist who wants to explore a new and exciting world of colour and sound.

Between Adam and Neil, they both hope to improve and advance the Eye-Borg so it is more accurate and sophisticated.

Article published: 19th January 2005




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