Neil Harbisson, the World’s First Cyborg Who has been Legally Identified by the British Government


Neil Harbisson never saw his condition as a disability. but he wished to understand the various sensations of light and color. This made him design a sensor that captures wavelengths and turns them into vibrations. Harbisson then experiences the vibrations as sounds. In layman terms, Harbisson has been “hearing” visible and invisible lights for the past 13 years.

He had to face a few problems after the implantation. He was rejected for his passport renewal, but after weeks of correspondence with the UK Passport Office, they finally agreed to consider the antenna as a part of Harbisson’s body. The British Government has legally accepted Harbisson of being a cyborg.

Harbisson started developing the antenna at college in 2003 with Adam Montandon and had it implanted in 2004. He has five friends, one in each continent, who sends colors, images, videos, or sounds directly into Harbisson’s head. The technology is so advanced that if Harbission receives a color while asleep, the color of his dreams can get altered!

Harbisson is an artist who designs sensory organs. Named “Cyborg Art,” he creates senses and organs and then merges them to create something that is not possible with the organs of our body. He started working on the sensor antenna in college in collaboration with Adam Montandon, a product designer and an inventor. In 2004, it was ready to be implanted into his brain. The implant surgery was rejected multiple times by bioethical committees but was nonetheless carried out by anonymous doctors.

The antenna sprouts out from the end of Harbisson’s skull. The sensor, known as the “Cyborg Antenna,” enables him to feel and hear colors in the form of audible vibrations inside his head. Not only the colors we see but also colors invisible to the human eye, like ultraviolet. The device also has internet capabilities which means it can receive colors from other sensors and devices.

Harbisson has allowed five friends from five different continents to send him colors, images, videos, or sounds to his brain directly. If he receives a color while asleep, the color in his dream also changes. How amazing is that? The Stream, a chat show on Al Jazeera, broadcasted Harbisson’s first public demonstration of the image transmitted directly to his brain. The first person to call Harbisson in his brain was Ruby Wax.

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