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Robot man is coming to India

Yolande D’Mello, TNN Jun 3, 2012, 01.16PM IST
(Robot man is coming to India )

Half-man-half-machine Neil Harbisson - one of the world's few cyborgs - chats with Yolande D'Mello about why it's easier to get into the shower than into church, and his upcoming India visit.

When Neil Harbisson was a little boy growing up in Mataro, Spain, all the clothes stacked in his cupboard were either black or white. Born with achromatopsia, a condition that allowed him to see no colour, he grew up tackling what he calls a "social" problem. "I don't have a personal problem looking at life in black and white; I like it that way. But around me, people would keep talking in colours. I would feel socially excluded," says the 29-year-old artist-musician in a telephonic interview from Barcelona.
That changed in 2004, when Harbisson began using an eyeborg, a head-mounted camera fitted with a chip and processor that he helped create with a Plymouth University student. The eyeborg helps him 'see' colours. In what may seem as though it is straight out of a science fiction novel, the camera picks up information about a colour (using light), and the chip transforms that into sound. A trained pianist, Harbisson memorised the frequency coinciding with each colour - high frequency sounded high-pitched; low frequency sounded low-pitched.
"Human skins are different shades of orange," says Harbisson, who has only ever experienced colour through sound.
"There is no black skin and white skin."