Feedback: Neil Harbisson


In my last post I found some interesting information about the connection of colour, emotions and music, however I became stuck as to where or how to take the project forward as I explained in the post. But finally I came up with the conclusion of discussing my project with others as a way of finding possible pieces of research to look into and progress my project.

Talking over my research so far with both Bobbie and Jess, I explained my key areas of interest being colour, emotion and the brain.

From the discussion it made me realise something very important, that my previous research topic of music hadn’t involved anything to do with the brain or controlling things using brain technology. This had clearly slipped my mind when researching and showed I was too tunnelled into focusing on colour and emotion that I forgot to incorporate brain into the research too. Therefore we all discussed what I could research into that involved brain technology more. Luckily Jess was researching into cybernetics at the time and pointed me towards a guy called Neil Harbisson. She described him to be a cyborg who has a a device which is attached to his brain and comes out of his head and can be used to help him identify colour through frequencies of sound. I thought was highly intriguing due to the wow factor it had and I wanted to learn more.

Neil Harbisson

A TED talk of Neil Harbisson explaining how his colour identification device works and why he uses it.


refer to Sketchbook 1



Illustration showing what colours Harbisson can hear when looking or listening to certain things 

Key points
  • Hear colour – Changed colour from a visual sense to a listening one
  • I can easily imagine Harbisson being the inspiration for a game, he’s a cyborg just as he is and could easily be translated into a character of sci-fi game.
  • What the device does blows my mind and I simply can’t comprehend someone hearing a colour, it just seems impossible, but yet it isn’t.
  • I feel it is fascinating how he can use a different sense to make him identify a colour which can only be seen visual. It makes me question whether this can be used for other things, what if people could see sounds or taste emotions.
  • Also I’m intrigued as to what all colours sound like and how he could train his brain to pin – point such specific colours with so much accuracy. It something I need to look more into to discover an answer.


Forming my own colour Sounds

Wanting to be able to experience the sounds Neil does, I decided to form my own sounds using the frequency and wavelength of coloured light.

Below I collected a graph showing me all the wavelengths and frequencies of coloured light.


Taking the values from the table and using an online tone generator I formed the sounds below. (I couldn’t use the actual values in terms of THz but I used the same number just in Hz, as the generator wouldn’t work in THz, thought it gets the point across.)










I’m unsure how these sounds can be used within a game context as they aren’t particularly pleasant to listen to and so I don’t feel players would appreciate hearing them. However it was a fun activity to do and also made me appreciate being able to see colour as I don’t think I could deal with listening to those tones my whole life.





Visuals illustrating all the different notes Neil Harbisson hears for each colour. 

Overall Thoughts


  • Manipulation of people through the sounds of colours – Change emotions by playing the yellow sound to make them happy or play the blue tone to make them sad


Reflecting upon the research so far I feel I need to do some visual responses to the research, to help me look at the project from a different perspective to broaden out the research and possibly inform later game ideas. Therefore I plan to do this by forming a colour playlist, associating all songs to a set of colours and then visualising the songs. I suppose this focuses more on the chromathesis side of my research which I was unsure would be useful to develop further, as explained in my previous post. However having now thought about it further by forming my own visualisations of the songs through colours and shapes, yes it is similar to a music visualiser but then I could expand out from those drawings and form a environment or other assets from those. Therefore by responding to the chromathesia information I will be expanding out my interpretation of chromathesis and looking and using the information in a different way.

Responses – Refer to sketchbook 2



  • Respond to the music research by forming my own playlist and associating the songs certain colours and visualising them – Similar to chromathesia