The only time you’ve probably thought about the idea of “hearing colors” is when some medical expert talks about synesthesia or your friend regales you with their magical adventures on psychedelics. But one man’s story of his incredibly rare condition will open your eyes and ears to a new way of connecting with objects and people.
Hearing Colors, a short film produced by Samsung as part of its Connected Series, dives into the unique life of Neil Harbisson, who was born with achromatopsia, a hereditary vision disorder that affects around 1 in every 33,000 people in the U.S. Harbisson, who describes himself as the world’s first legally recognized cyborg, developed and implemented a way to experience color in 2004: a bendable antenna surgically implanted in his skull. The device works through a color sensor in the antenna that picks up light frequencies and sends them to a chip which turns the frequencies into sound waves.
“I don’t feel like I’m using technology. I don’t feel like I’m wearing technology. I feel that I am technology,” Harbisson says in the film. “Having new sensors on your body parts will create new conversations between people…about their perception of reality and about senses.”
Harbisson’s antenna is more than just a conversation starter, though: Concepts of the world that we may all take for granted are given a new shade of depth through his sensory experience.
“I used to think that humans were black and white and since I hear color I’ve detected it’s completely wrong,” he says. “People that say they’re black, they’re actually very, very dark orange. And people that say they’re white, they’re not white–they’re actually very, very light orange. We are actually all sharing exactly the same hue.”
Check out more from The Connected Series here.