Everyone, exhale! If you've ever ridden the subway in one of Japan's major cities, especially during the morning or evening rush hours, you'll likely never want to repeat the experience. Yet thousands do, day after day, because their jobs demand it. Those living in far-flung suburbs spend literally hours on the trains daily, often being crammed into rapidly filling cars by uniformed "people pushers". You'd think they would like to enjoy a little temporary peace by using their iPods or MP3 music players, but how can they when even raising a hand to scratch your nose risks one being accused of groping by the girl (or guy) beside you?
This problem was carefully considered by Fumio Miyazaki (pictured below), an engineering science professor at Osaka University, in all likelihood while he was riding a packed commuter train. His solution involves an infrared sensor that reacts to the user's bite pressure to operate a microprocessor. Does this discriminate against gum-chewers who risk changing tunes with every chomp? Not at all - the computer is programmed to react only to sustained one-second jaw clenches. Eat, drink and be musical, in other words!
Biting commentary by Miyazaki
Miyazaki's colleague, Kazuhiro Taniguchi, sees broader applications for the hands-free controller that include giving quadriplegics a wider range of control for their wheelchairs and allowing PowerPoint presenters to gesture and use a pointer while operating the slide show with their teeth.
The tooth? You can't handle the tooth!
While only a prototype at present, the device is continuing to undergo development and should be on the market in due time. Let's hope the "teething pains" aren't too severe! (via Yahoo! News)
Japanese Innovations Writer
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