Synesthesia: A Sea of Senses
Naia Lee, Maja Bonham
Sir Winston Churchill Secondary
Floor Location : M 022 N

Synesthesia is a neurological condition in which the stimulation of one of the five senses elicits a reaction from another sense, effectively joining the two together. This project seeks to create a device capable of simulating colour-sound synesthesia for a non-synesthete. In addition, it seeks to spread awareness about synesthesia among non-synesthetes, and create an opportunity for those who do experience some form of this condition, to improve understanding of themselves and other synesthetes. Through Zachary Howard’s Instructable page describing his original “synesthesia mask”, which allowed one to experience smell-colour synesthesia, we were able to design and build our own device. First of all, we modified SunFounder code slightly, adding a variable which would analyze the values of different colours, and use a many to one ratio to match them to notes. Then by attaching 7 cables to their corresponding pins on the Uno board, attaching that to a speaker, and linking it to a computer, we uploaded the code to the board. When the device is in use, an RGB colour sensor detects the material and translates the amount of red, green and blue it contains into a sound. The frequencies are then sent to the board, where the speaker is able to emit a note for each of the three colours, before looping back and re-detecting it. The higher the frequency of each sound, a greater amount of that particular colour has been detected. For example, if the sensor is held next to something black, all three beeps would be very low, almost monotone. However, if the sensor is held to something red, the red beep will be much more noticeably higher than the subsequent green and blue beeps. In this way, it is possible to hear the amount of each colour detected in any material. This project provides us, and potentially others, with a base on which to refine and modify our device, simulate other forms of synesthesia, and further explore this fascinating condition.