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Mù màu vẫn "nghe" thấy màu sắc

Friday 29 February 2008

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Một anh chàng mù màu, chỉ có khả năng phân biệt được hai màu đen và trắng, vẫn trở thành một họa sỹ thực thụ và cảm nhận màu sắc qua tai…

Neil Harbisson, 25 tuổi, gắn vào tai mình thiết bị Eyeborg. Nó sẽ cảm nhận và chuyển đổi từ 360 màu sắc thành 360 âm thanh khác nhau.

Vốn là sinh viên trường Cao đẳng Nghệ thuật Dartington ở Devon nhưng do mù màu nên Neil chỉ vẽ tranh với hai màu đen trắng. 3 năm trước đây, anh đã gặp ông Adam Montandon, một chuyên gia về điều khiển học đến trường giảng dạy.

Sau khi được biết về bệnh trạng của Neil, ông Montandon quyết tâm giải quyết vấn đề, giúp Neil vẽ được tất cả các màu sắc.

Thiết bị ban đầu mà Neil được sử dụng rất đơn giản, nó cho phép anh “nghe” được 6 màu sắc khác nhau. Hiện tại thiết bị này đã cung cấp tới 360 âm thanh tương ứng với 360 màu sắc khác nhau. Ví dụ, độ rung nhẹ và nhanh nhất hiển thị màu tím, rung nhẹ và chậm nhất là màu đỏ…

From The Sunday Times, February 24, 2008

Colour-blind artist learns to paint by hearing

Richard Brooks, Arts Editor

A COLOUR-BLIND artist who could only recognise black and white shades has learnt how to paint with a full palette by “hearing” the hues he cannot see.

Neil Harbisson, 25, has been fitted with a device called an Eyeborg, which converts 360 colours into different sounds.

As an art student at Dartington College of Arts in Devon, he painted only in black and white because that is all he saw. But three years ago he met Adam Montandon, a cybernetics expert who came to give a lecture at the college.

After the talk, Montandon was told of Harbisson’s condition and he took up the challenge of solving the problem, enabling Harbisson to paint in colour. The artist suffers from achromatopsia – or complete congenital colour blindness.

Montandon decided to harness the way in which different colours reflect light at different frequencies, with light vibrating fastest from violet and slowest from red.

The first device fitted to Harbisson’s head was fairly primitive, letting him “hear” only six colours. His current model is far more sophisticated, giving him access to 360 colours.

Montandon created the Eyeborg system, manufactured by HMC Interactive, the design company in Plymouth that he co-founded. It is a head-mounted digital camera that reads the colours directly in front of it. The camera is connected to a laptop computer, carried in a backpack, which slows down the frequency of light waves to the frequency of sound waves. The computer then sends the “sound” of each colour to an earpiece worn by Harbisson. Montandon expects the system eventually to be as small as an MP3 player.

The device has made a huge difference to Harbisson’s art, which is now his profession. Since wearing the Eyeborg he has expanded from just two or three, usually primary, colours to many more.

His paint tubes have labels stating their colours and also have a sample of the colour itself on the outside so he knows through his ears which colour to pick.

The sounds do not degenerate into a cacophony because the tiny camera picks up only what is directly ahead of him. For that reason he does not drive: traffic and car lights would be too distant for him to be happy using the device.

Montandon hopes other people suffering from colour blindness or other vision disorders will now use his Eyeborg technology, whether or not they are artists.

How it works

1. Lens examines colour artist is looking at

2. Computer analyses colour and calculates an equivalent sound frequency

3. Earpiece emits a noise to tell artist which colour he is looking at

4. Artist has to learn which sounds identify particular colours