Co.Design

Turn Color Into Sound With This Synesthesia Synthesizer App

Available for iOS and Android, Roy G Biv will let you hear what a piece of pizza sounds like.

What does a piece of pizza sound like?

Unless you have synesthesia, you've probably never heard the secret music of melted mozzarella and pepperoni for yourself. But thanks to a new app, you can. Called Roy G Biv, this iPhone app will let you use the colors of the world around you and turn them into music.

Named after the acronym for the colors of the rainbow's spectrum, Roy G Biv is essentially a synesthesia synthesizer. By aiming your smartphone's camera at something--a book, a beer, a piece of furniture, a grape soda, whatever--Roy G Biv will use the object's dominant color as the basis for a single octave keyboard.

How? All colors can be uniquely identified by their hue, saturation, and brightness. By translating these values into musical variables like waveform, oscillation, and attack/decay time, the app can determine the sound of the notes you play on the app's keyboard.

"Essentially, it's like any other synth, except instead of twisting knobs you're observing the world around you," Roy G Biv's developer, Julian Glander, tells Co.Design. "Pretty simple stuff, really!"

Although he admits to not being much of a programmer--his day job is making branded GIFs--Glander wanted to see if his skills would still be sufficient to create an app that explored two of his fascinations at once: musical toys and synesthesia.

"Ever since high school, I've been fascinated with the way that someone's sense can be swapped so that they smell a color, or see a sound," Glander says. "I've also got a soft spot for bizarre musical toys. So I guess Roy G Biv is my small contribution to the canon of goofy novelty synths."

Roy G Biv is goofy by design--Glander admits the app looks like some sort of "handheld color detection machine from Logan's Run--but he hopes that it will help people explore the world of color around them.

"I'm super excited to see how people use Roy G Biv," says Glander. "I can see it appealing to stressed creative types who need some thoughtless bleep bloop time in the office, or parents who want to teach their toddlers about color."

Roy G Biv can be purchased for iOS or Android-based smartphones now for just $0.99.

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2 Comments

  • Zura Guerra

    It is totally a copycat of this app: http://www.eyeborgapp.com/ Neil Harbisson, a colorblind man (and the first oficially recognized cyborg {because of an antenna he has implanted that does the same thing that the app}) developed it.

  • Yes, a copycat. Because it's impossible for two humans to have the same or similar ideas without being fully aware of each other.