Can You Hear Red? - Technology, Color and Sound

By: Diane Devitt
Technology takes us on unchartered creative journeys. We sit at our ‘cockpits’, our workstations, a park bench, the beach, and we launch into space - cyber space. Think about it, we are no different than the explorers and discoverers from the 1400s to the 1600s, where navigators of ships including the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria used maps and compasses to direct their sails and take them to unexplored territory. We use search engines that are changing lives every nano second during this paradigm shift in time. And the one thing we all have in common is the need to continue our search, delve deeper and keep our minds open to wonder and what’s next.

So, what is a person who writes about inspiration, creativity and wellness for personal and professional growth doing in a place like this? The answer is to take you on a journey to inspire, challenge your creative thinking and remind you of the importance of digital health for your personal wellness and productivity. Today, we will focus on inspiration through color and sound. 

Technology has integrated into our very DNA and permeated our brains and bodiesto process information, data and connections that inspire us, utilize our creative abilities, and help us maximize our mental, intellectual, and physical performance. Technology has infused our brains and our senses to help with communication on so many levels. This ability has been a game changer, an opening to new worlds for so many people to enhance their sensory communication. I learned this concept firsthand when meeting Neil Harbisson, a cyborg, some years ago. @NeilHarbisson is an artist who installed an antenna in his skull that allows him to ‘hear’ the vibrations of color as he was born color blind. We met when I produced the first SenseUP! Summit focusing on how our senses are related to all marketing communication.

Meeting my first cyborg in a New York City café was a unique experience for me as I immediately was fascinated to physically see this technology in action – live – and responsive. Not only does Neil experience art on an extremely distinct level than most, but all colors around him ‘speak’ to him. I can only imagine the heightened sensory ability that absorbs this and delivers the messaging to the brain. I’m not a neuroscientist but combining the knowledge I received as a trained yogi and the years of researching the senses, I marvel at where we will go in the future. (If you are interested in this area, I encourage you to set a google alert to Technology and the Senses).
I must admit that meeting Neil gave me an instant realization of the possibilities that exist in our future, a Star Wars-like-reality that enables all people to communicate with others and most important the choice to overcome physical challenges people are born with or develop from one incident or another. Neil and others like him in different areas are pioneers, exploring ways to maximize technology to enhance the capabilities that most of us take for granted. 
The power of sound whether for behavior, well-being, healing and just plain enjoyment leads me to Barry Goldstein, master of sound and sound vibration. Barry, a Grammy Award winner, creatively and deftly works with technology and integrates sound, music and vibration through speakers that travel into our brains, our souls to experience the healing aspects of music and sound. Barry speaks about Music, Vibration & The Secret Language of The Heart as he explains in his book of the same name. His use of technology to reach the decibels that evoke and arouse our spirits is medicine, medicine of a different kind.   

Think about the advances of technology and how offering these unique possibilities gives so many people choices of lifestyles and the effects on how we will meet in the future. Producers and planners have such unique roles with their audience and are responsible to maximize each and everyone’s experience in a meeting. What Neil Harbusson did was create a personal experience that resonates, vibrates, and stimulates his sense of sight to feel the color. In my imagination, I presume that a deep red vs. a pale pink would be like comparing baroque music to a lullaby. I can feel red and so can you if you really focus. What Barry Goldstein does is provide music for any setting that affects our emotions and behavior. Think of the possibilities for meeting platforms in the future!   

Many years ago, I attended a concert at Symphony Hall conducted by Keith Lockhart. The concert was a part of a program instituted by the MIT Media Lab as part of a doctoral thesis from one of the students. Mr. Lockhart donned a wired jacket that read his pulse and emotional reactions during the concert while the audience watched the color translation on a big screen suspended above the orchestra. I recall at this event thinking of how our bodies speak in color and that this special experience demonstrated the magnitude of how technology can capture these unspoken languages. 

It's just the beginning. If these two technological advances are helping with color and sound, imagine what else can be accomplished. Language apps have become more and more refined, and what makes them different from ‘sensory’ apps to help people speak other ‘languages’. Anyone with specific challenges or situations are now able to overcome and assimilate with ease through technology. Marlee Matlin, the deaf actress, proved with sign language that one can be a great actress and the film and television industry adapted. Many planners creatively respond to these special needs for meeting attendees through talented speakers, sign language, or closed caption translations. There is an abundance of information and guidelines to plan meetings for people with special needs, although I am not familiar with any specific platform that addresses color blindness and if you know one, please respond to this article to help others. As a visual person, I often recommend that instructions be color coded, and I realized that this is not helpful to everyone through writing this article. Perhaps planners will adopt services of digital color visualization experts and integrate their knowledge to designing content as we evolve with meeting needs. The bottom line is to increase our sensitivity to all people and to move forward with utilizing – and creating – technological platforms that will easily and intuitively accommodate any guest needs.    

So, when you sit down at your cockpit the next time, appreciate the advances we continue to make and the pathways that are being created for all people. We are thinking species and our creative minds will continue to create – one beat, one color at a time. Remember that red and blue make purple and imagine the possibilities.
Dianne Devitt is an industry visionary and personality with global experience as a producer, events director, author, and speaker. She is also an Adjunct Professor at New York University, and is the founder of The DND Group, Inc. Passionate about the power of creativity and live experiences, she is an expert on providing creative inspiration and sharing her innate gift of seeing solutions to achieve corporate and business objectives with business leaders who influence and lead to inspire people to be the best version of themselves.
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