Update: 2016-09-165


In this hour, TED speakers question whether we can experience the world more deeply by not only extending our senses — but going beyond them. (Original broadcast date: March 7, 2014).

Following script is auto-generated by Speech to Text Technology:

support for this podcast in the following message come from concur a service where employees get simplified expense reports and business leaders get full visibility into their company spending habits expense travel invoice learn more at concurred dot com slash Radio Hour eight sky here just let you know working on new episodes of prophecy never had food about toxicity but in the meantime take a listen to this really great one from our archives it's called Extra sensory and soap the ways we extend our senses to experience the world and sometimes new and better ways you hear stories about incredible technology that can allow us to hear a color touch and feel with bionic arms and create customized synthetic voices so here it is this radio at the beach week groundbreaking talked the Ted Technology Design at Stanford gift of the human imagination had to believe in impossible the true nature of reality beckons just beyond those talks those ideas adapted for radio NPR guy in on the show to date extra sensory the ideas on how technology and even human behavior can actually stretch our senses the We see what we say what we feel what we fear the end for the harvest and fearing has never been the problem the problem is seeing he can see everything well everything except for colors I don't see the hue and saturation which is Laurie read law range and that's a bit of a problem because Neal is an artist a painter actually he looks out to the world in front of them just through his eyes it's like he's living a black and white film so to experience color Neil uses the his ear aches like what is in bed Sam like Rhett is half the Yellow Yellow is she again was Green's am like a suit because at his low as the orange than yellow than green and turquoise blue and Violet hands let's get really cool the uh okay so how in the old as this is all most ingeniously simple he has help from some very cool technology in how he came about is how it works here's the story begins at eight eleven in Spain where Neil grew up up until then I just thought I was confusing colors because I just learned the names of colors and I learned that the sky was blue and the grass was green but when I was eleven I was told I was in actually seeing color I was just memorizing of colors in that moment changed everything he thought about himself and his potential well one I knew that I couldn't see color I didn't want to wear color either so I ask my parent is a bi color less close to edges white lichen great because I didn't want to wear something that I couldn't see from the period ages hate that color and I just wanted to call or less the world but very quickly they realize that living a colorless life it's actually impossible to do that thing about sport there's color codes in Sport TV thing about chemistry this importance in the color of the material and color is also in literature you find color in every book every three or four pages you find the name of a color with things that have nothing to do is color like yellow pages or Buddhist or a green card James Brown has a brownish sand everywhere colors already has a cat like almost like a horror movie like you running away from colors yet I tried actually I just thought about leaving somewhere what color would me being an arse with is just snow this white yes one of my aims was to just move to an island where would they would be no color but even there I'm sure it would be impossible if places like Greenland is usually snow eleven that the island of Greenland so after trying to run away from it Neil decided to embrace it specifically he went to art school in the first day he walked right into Dean's office and I said hi I don't see color and he said What the hell you doing here then is the school let him do all his art in black and white collar kept coming back to him it was like this elusive thing he couldn't crack it became a mystery to me color he became an invisible element that I just wanted to perceive so I became obsessed with color I just wanted to extend my senses and perceive color it was right around that time when Neil happened to attend a lecture by an expert on cyber medics he was giving this talk about how we could use technology to extend our senses and after the election a young guy approach me and was in the open of us a little bit timid this is the guy gave lectures name is Adam on to them he said Adam you're talking about changing the way that we see the world but I don't see the world the same as everybody else and that really got me interested the thing to mention right here is that colors have frequencies in Amman to none knew that the question was How do we translate colors in this and I took the train ride back home after the election the twenty minutes of the train ride at the very first idea is already head the final result was this electronic eye that I will be wearing fun almost ten years now and attached to my head and allows me to hear color or to get a sense of what he looks like he has is like antenna that loops over his head and attached to the end is a little camera and that is what looks at and senses colors his has a work and like can you take it off no it's permanently attached and then it sends this frequency is to achieve are installed at the back of my head and then I hear the callers to bunk and auctions if you are constantly hearing sounds like everytime you turn your head constantly hearing things than hearing the wall now here and when I move my head I hear the mom hearing the microphone and everything sounds because this color absolutely every laugh feels obsession with extending his senses became a reality here's how he described it on the Ted stage so life has changed dramatically since I hear color because color is almost everywhere so biggest changes for example is going to an art gallery I can listen to it because so often some posts is like a going to a concert hall because I can listen to the paintings and supermarkets is like going to a nightclub it's full of different relatives especially the aisle with cleaning product is just fabulous the the the also the way I dress has changed before I use to dress in a way that it looked good now I dress in a way that it sounds good today I'm resting seem a job so it is quite the happy court that I had to go to a funeral though I would dress in B minor which would be Mercy's purple and orange The The The also her the way I perceive beauty has changed because when I look at someone I hear the face so someone might look very beautiful but sound terrible and my cup of the opposite to the other way Ramsay really enjoy treated like sound portraits of people instead of drying someone's face like drawing the shape I pointed them with the eye and I write down the different notes I hear and then I create some gorgeous here some places at this point in your psyche plays some sound portraits first of Tom Cruise who i then there's Al Gore or wool he shows Prince Charles all All in This is what Nicole Kidman sounds like or chemical Kidman sounds good I uh some people I would never relayed but they sound similar when Strauss has some similarities with Nicole Kidman they have similar sound of ice of the Relay people who couldn't relate and it's amazing because it's not just the colors become sounds that sounds that you hear are translated into color in your mind yes the secondary effect so it's slowly happened when I started to hear electronic sounds I've felt color my hair the telephone thong and it felt green because it sounded just like the color green the BBC peeps I say something twice so I started to paint music and paint people's vices because people's vices have frequent as I relate the color when new trends pose music to cover its interesting to compare the fan art is the blue laws are used to love the yellow pages and many of his pieces there's a lot of the notes was where's The Justin Bieber's very thing the there's lots of season also these in his music so you realize that our desire using more or less the same colors when they composed the I will never listen to Justin Beaver the same ever again I will always think these hand painted and burial of the The butcher paper covered by the way infrared infrared is my favorite color it's the lowest and it's always in unexpected places but what it sounds like it's very low the mm by just the the the very very low the the actually very nice to hear so I got to find what I was able to see if he hadn't sixty colors just like human vision I was able to different save all the degrees of the color wheel but then I just thought that this human vision was wasn't good enough there's many colors around is that we cannot perceive but the electronic eyes can perceive so I decided to continue expanding my color sense is and I added in for Ed and I added ultra Violet to the caller to Sound scan so now I can hear colors that the human eye cannot perceive freeze on perceiving him for it is good because you can actually be effective there is movement detectors in a room I can hear if someone points at me with a remote control and a good thing about perceiving ultraviolet is that you can hear it is a good they are but they to Sunday as ultra Violet is a dangerous call it the connection so I wrote that you think of yourself as like is like half human half robot like a cyborg yeah I feel that I am technology I don't feel I'm wearing technology and I'll fill and using technology I feel that I am acknowledging that the antenna is a part of my body which is unusual feeling bad that it makes sense when you've been wearing it for so long you by the Jazz accepts this as a part of you that's right three years ago I created the siren Foundation which is a fashion that tries to help people become a cyborg Christ to encourage people to expand their senses by using technology as part of the body the thing that knowledge comes from our senses so if we expand our senses we will consequently expand our knowledge I think life will be much more exciting when we stop creating applications for mobile phones and respect are taking applications for our own body this will be a big big change that will see during this century so I do encourage you all to think about which senses you'd like to extend I would encourage you to become a cyber u wun be alone thank you uh harvest to call himself the world's first cyborg to get his full talk at Ted dot com and I rise more ideas about stretching our senses in a moment listening to the Ted Radio Hour from NPR the The Hello Everyone I just wish thanks to two of our sponsors who help keep this podcast going first to stamp dot com mailing and shipping can seem like a no win situation trips to the post office are time consuming and leasing a postage meter is expensive there is a better way stamps dot com buy and print official US postage for any letter or package using your own computer setup for staff dot com for a special offer for our listeners a four week trial plus postage and a digital scale the stamps dot com click on the microphone and enter NPR thanks also to buy shares because the best preparation for tomorrow is building their future today so whatever you're inspired to build and life this is the time to make it possible I shares by BlackRock inspired to build its the Ted Radio Hour from NPR guy rise on the show today extra sensory how technology and even human behavior can actually stretch our senses hellos a time yes it is either so this is Tai chi Ken he's a doctor and researcher who runs for bionic Medicine so I'm sure you've been asked this question before like hundred times but have to ask you this question because if the first time I figure Ted talk I'm thinking I'm thinking of Steve Austin we lost an arm two legs in one eye but he's alive and thinking the gentleman we can rebuild him The The The The The gem but they said about him I mean they said Steve Austin will be Batman and better than he was before you know I love that show as a kid and I think it's inspiring and Lord knows we would love to get there I mean we are kind of at the Savannah Cuban place yes we have I believe crossed a big hurdle by developing a way for a person to control their prosthetic limb and that's not just goofy movements an intuitive things about the system or person thinks about what they want to do and happens our system where someone with an artificial hand or arm just thinks about moving it and it happens and how does it actually focused on the robotic arm or hand alone but his big idea is to literally the human body to make those arms and hands work better instead of just making a machine for the human we've changed human to be able to use machine better what really amazed me is to say I'm moving my eye wanna close my hand or or bend my elbows is intuitive we don't we're not thinking about that you just do it but but these patients are literally thinking in their brains band elbow move hand happens has that happen well I think of the brain as I thought starts right now it's where you first sign and even though you're not thinking about it you send signals down your neck and you make the inner fire it has little electrical signals that standing on the way to the end of the Nerf where the chemicals go across to the muscle and make the muscle have a little electrical spark that I hopped down the muscle fibers telling contrast in your hands clothes is like without even thinking about it yes but what happens when you lose your arm above the elbow right you don't have those muscles to move your hand anymore that's right you've lost not only the muscles and bones that the controller ok so here's where the re wiring comes in right because you've last those critical muscles that control your arm in your hand but the nerve endings are still there I can tap the end of an urban world war two amputee and still feel they're missing hand so they're alive an eight day work unlike the data cables show the nerve endings in the nerve signals are still there right but without those muscles it's really hard to figure out what those nerve signals actually say the signals are really really really tiny and you have to listen to that single nerve fiber at a time can't we plug them in some place better place that might be able to amplify the signals and then re those nerves that other muscles the The explains how this can be done the head stage the four using a biological amplifier to amplify these nerve signals muscle muscles will amplify the nerve signals about a thousand fold so that we can record them from on top the skin so our approach is something we call targeted re innovation imagine with somebody who's lost their whole arm we still have four major nerves that go down your arm and we take the nerve away from your chest muscle at these nerves grow into it now you think Chloe's hand and little section in your chest contract you think bend elbow a different section contract and we can use electrodes or antennas to pick that up until the arms and that's the idea this is unbelievable you can go into the body and basically say we're going to attach this nerve to that nerve and that Nerf this muscle tees like tricking the brain and if into like thinking hand is there we know frankly I'm an engineer and they would let me re wire people it's really sad so my colleague Greg mine at Northwestern's a talented surgeon and he goes in there and finds the right nerves and the ends of them and then we re direct them to where we have spare muscle I guess the analogy I use is that the nerves of wire and we've lost the phone at one end and so we just take the wire hook it up to a different phone so that we can talk me the next exactly how it works computerized prosthetic arm can pick up the nerve signals and then tell the press that can open the clothes for example Todd did this with a patient has meant a kit to offer join him on the Ted stage so and would you please tell us how you lost your share and two thousand and six I had a car accident and how is driving home from our end and truck was coming opposite direction came over and a mile and ran her over the top of my car is Axel tore my arm after that I woke up in the ICU I didn't know what happened and when I realize you know that I lost my arm was completely torn up couldn't stop crying for days with Amanda and she lost her arm and a couple inches above the elbow so she had a nice long residual in if you will miss end that is the place where Todd's team re wired the man deserves the and we can take the biceps which has two parts leave one alone to do the biceps control of an elbow to take the other one and put a hand closing are into it and when that nerve across anything close your hand you are thinking bend your biceps or contract your biceps you're thinking close my hand but we've rerouted the nerve that the wire to a different amplifier and that's when it was like magic after that I can just open my hand in hand would open and then have to use any funny movements set to work the arm so it became like a natural part of me the time he was delighted but not to take it just a step further so I started to think more about the nerve the nerve actually controls each of your fingers your thumb your wrist now my colleagues have developed computer decoding algorithms that are a lot like voice recognition and so we listen to the signals from the muscle and these computer programs decoded the so that we can tell I want to close your hand and your wrist turn your wrist or even what type of hand grass pattern you want to make so I have the figures oven down to have the wrist rotation because the likes of an extension at this moment she's just turned her entire wrist three hundred and sixty degrees yeah well that's quite a bar trick for it because you give somebody something they can do and it so sometimes that's functional because you can flip it into a position and isn't even human eye the thing about re wiring as nerves that when you do that it means that prosthetic hands are actually getting a lot closer than ever before to a real human hand because the nerves they can still feel and touch want to watch the OU the body and that was the first time she got to feel are crossed that had a little sensor at the end of her prosthesis that then she rubbed over different surfaces and she could feel different textures of sandpaper different grits ribbon cable as it pushed on her re invade hand skin she said that when she just ran across the table felt like the finger was rocking he the the the it was one of those scientific surprises in those nerves to your hand actually two thirds or more for sensation only one third are for controlling muscles so the thousands and thousands of nerves that are trying to ride into something and most of them are sensation and they grew into any little sensory end organ they could so early in the show we spoke he harvests and who calls himself a cyborg right in his antenna is literally screwed into the bone of his skull and wonder if that's the direction we're headed with this sort of bionic technology and can you imagine half human half machines who can function normally despite having been born with disabilities or limitations I certainly imagine and we're progressing to having machines help people with disabilities and i even more and more intimate way as far as half human half machine I take challenge to that because the essence of human is in our minds in what we think and what we do and I don't see that ever being replaced I hope we have things to augment but I don't ever feel my humanity is going to be integrated with any form of machine was thinking about this idea of like energy that travels through body and that energy travels from person to person like when I hold my son's hand he now there's there's that feeling of holding a kids hand you know and wonder if he could ever replicate that prosthetic hand wow that's some that's a tough that's an exciting one and the question is how much that you get from having it being your own hand so let me put it this way something is always better than nothing so you're holding your son's hand with a very rich sensory normal hand and you get all of these delicate feelings but Furman with no hands no arms if we put a sensor in the prosthesis so that as he touches that child's hand and it's nothing more than a little squeeze that he feels but yet it's his squeeze and it's his kids' hands so perhaps the fidelity of the feeling is not near as important as the identity of the feeling and the fact that it's my hand that is touching something in cash that's my kid the Tai chi Ken runs the Center for bionic Medicine at the rehabilitation Institute of Chicago you can watch is amazing full talk at Ted got NPR dot org The Future of Human Race Are We alone in the universe so this is a voice you probably know physicist Stephen Hawking of course but the weird thing about this voice is that it's not just his voice is the exact same computerized voice that used by thousands of people around the world who cannot speak on their own and we know this is Stephen Hawking because well we Stephen Hawking but there's little girls and older women and lots of other people who are using that voice even though he thinks about as being his voice the the right and so the other people will use in those places I think about them being their voice this is a triple to tell I must eat scientist and professor at Madison University in ruble has figured out a way to create new voices customized voices for people who use synthetic speech people whose actual voices for whatever reason autism or cerebral palsy or stroke can speak and the story of how it all came about Google explains from the Ted stage this lack of individual nations of the synthetic voice really hit home when I was at an assistive Technology Conference a few years ago and I recall scene a little girl and grown man having a conversation using the devices the two the two different devices coming to this conference same voice this is my first year I looked around I saw this happening all around me the voices that didn't fit their bodies or their personality who has the argument we wouldn't dream of fitting a little girl with a prosthetic limb of a grown man twice in the same prophetic voice it really struck me and I wanted to do something about this play you now a sample of two people actually have severe speech disorder are saying the same vitamins A and to do is you probably didn't understand what they said but I hope that you heard their unique vocal identities the Mdm I wanted to find out how to harness these residual vocal abilities and build a technology that could be customized for the voices that can be customized for them so we decided to do exactly that with a girl named Samantha has a very rare speech disorder which makes it impossible for her to speak but she can make sounds vowel like sounds which turned out to be enough of a sample for ruble and her team of researchers oh ah that sound is Jason what's in and they can produce that's her eye and fun that we can gather the pitch of her voice
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