Meet the man who can “feel colors” with his antenna

Artist Neil Harbisson explains the technology of his antenna
Updated 13 February 2018

Meet the man who can “feel colors” with his antenna

DUBAI: A self-proclaimed “cyborg” who says technology has helped him with his colorblindness has landed in Dubai to speak at the World Government Summit on Tuesday.

Born with a rare disease that only allows him to see in shades of gray, Neil Harbisson went ahead with a procedure that saw an antenna implanted into his skull that helps him see colors.

The antenna, which has a wireless camera connected to a wireless sound vibration implant in his skull, enables remote communication – as well as the transmission of images, sound or video.

The Catalan-raised British-born artist said the technology allows him to “feel and hear colors as audible vibrations inside his head” – and that includes the colors that cannot be seen by anyone through the naked eye.

The antenna “allows me to extend my perception of reality beyond the visual spectrum,” Harbisson explained.

“I can sense infrared and ultraviolet, and I also have an Internet connection in my head that allows me to receive colors from other parts of the world, or connect to satellite so I can send colors from space,” he said in an interview with UAE state-run news agency WAM at the World Government Summit.


His connection to the Internet also allows the reception of colors and images from all over the world. He has given permission to five friends across each continent to transmit colors, images, videos and sounds directly into his head via satellite.

Dubai’s World Government Summit has focused a lot of presentations on robotics and technology for the future.

And Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in an honorary speech on Sunday that technology has the power to reduce poverty and bring about “inclusive growth for everyone.”


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Russia to send ‘Fedor’ its first humanoid robot into space

Updated 22 August 2019

Russia to send ‘Fedor’ its first humanoid robot into space

  • Fedor was to blast off in a Soyuz rocket at 6:38 am Moscow time (0338 GMT) from Russia’s Baikonur cosmodrome
  • Fedor is not the first robot to go into space

MOSCOW: Russia was set to launch on Thursday an unmanned rocket carrying a life-size humanoid robot that will spend 10 days learning to assist astronauts on the International Space Station.
Named Fedor, for Final Experimental Demonstration Object Research with identification number Skybot F850, the robot is the first ever sent up by Russia.
Fedor was to blast off in a Soyuz rocket at 6:38 am Moscow time from Russia’s Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, dock with the space station on Saturday and stay till September 7.
The Soyuz spacecraft is normally manned on such trips, but on Thursday no humans will be traveling in order to test a new emergency rescue system.
Instead of cosmonauts, Fedor will sit in a specially adapted pilot’s seat.

The silvery anthropomorphic robot stands one meter 80 centimeters tall (5 foot 11 inches) and weighs 160 kilograms (353 lbs).
Fedor has Instagram and Twitter accounts that describe it as learning new skills such as opening a bottle of water. In the station, it will trial those manual skills in very low gravity.
“That’s connecting and disconnecting electric cables, using standard items from a screwdriver and a spanner to a fire extinguisher,” the Russian space agency’s director for prospective programs and science, Alexander Bloshenko, said in televised comments.
Fedor copies human movements, a key skill that allows it to remotely help astronauts or even people on Earth carry out tasks while they are strapped into an exoskeleton.
Such robots will eventually carry out dangerous operations such as space walks, Bloshenko told RIA Novosti state news agency.
On the website of one of the state backers of the project, the Foundation of Advanced Research Projects, Fedor is described as potentially useful on Earth for working in high radiation environments, de-mining and tricky rescue missions.
On board, the robot will perform tasks supervised by Russian cosmonaut Alexander Skvortsov, who joined the ISS last month, and will wear an exoskeleton in a series of experiments scheduled for later this month.

Robonaut 2, Kirobo
Space agency chief Dmitry Rogozin showed pictures of the robot to President Vladimir Putin this month, saying it will be “an assistant to the crew.”
“In the future we plan that this machine will also help us conquer deep space,” he added.
Fedor is not the first robot to go into space.
In 2011, NASA sent up Robonaut 2, a humanoid robot developed with General Motors and a similar aim of working in high-risk environments.
It was flown back to Earth in 2018 after experiencing technical problems.
In 2013, Japan sent up a small robot called Kirobo along with the ISS’s first Japanese space commander. Developed with Toyota, it was able to hold conversations — albeit only in Japanese.