Artist Neil Harbisson and his 'eyeborg'. (
Artist Neil Harbisson and his 'eyeborg'. (

A colour-blind artist can now "hear" colours, after having an "eyeborg" implanted into his skull.

Neil Harbisson, 31, was born with achromatopsia, a rare condition which means he can only see in black and white.

For 10 years, the London-based artist has been using an "electronic eye", which picks up colour frequencies and transforms them into sound.

In an effort to hear more intricate colours, he has now had the device implanted into his skull.

"This announcement is not the launch of a new product and it is not the presentation of new technology - it is the presentation of a new body part that will allow us to extend our senses in unimaginable ways," Harbisson said.

Harbisson conceived of the idea for the device after hearing Adam Montandon give a talk about cybernetics at Dartington College in 2003.

The pair then devised the device, which comprises a camera at one end, and an audio device on the other.

Every colour recorded by the camera produces a different vibration or sound and a wi-fi connector allows him to "see" images sent from mobile phones

Last month, in a series of operations in Barcelona, Harbisson had the device implanted into his skull, giving him greater depth of perception, and tomorrow he will unveil the device.

Project spokeswoman Mariana Viada said: "There is now more distinction between the colours - it is much wider and more definite.

"But the most important new thing is that he can now connect with other devices.

"He can now not only perceive the colours that are in front of him but also colours that other people are looking at on their phones.

"Potentially, this means, that he could also communicate skull to skull with other people who have the implant, but at the moment he is the only one.

"How this will exactly work and the details will be revealed by Neil during his presentation."

Harbisson has used the device to create the world's first "colour opera", in which he ordered the sounds produced by an image of Barcelona's Palau de la Musica into a musical sequence, which singers and musicians then performed.

Speaking at a conference in 2012, he said: "For me the sky is always grey, flowers are always grey and television is black and white.

"But since the age of 21 instead of seeing colour I can hear colour.

"So I've been hearing colour all the time for eight years so I find it completely normal to hear it all the time.

"At the start it's had to memorise the names you have for each colour and the notes but after some time all this information became a perception and I didn't have to think about the notes and after some time this became a feeling.

"I started to have favourite colours and I started to dream in colour.

"When I stared to dream in colour is when I felt that the software and my brain had united because in my dream it was my brain creating electronic sounds it was not the software and that's when I started to feel like a cyborg.

"It had become an extension of my senses."