Life is fraught
: social interaction, inflation and fashion all conspire to ruin your day. Even the simple act of firing up your PMP
can send you to the floor in tears if you discover your earbuds are in the wrong way, forever ruining the beautiful stereo trickery of The White Album
. Fortunately, Japan's Science and Technology Agency
has beavered away at this most first-world of problems with its Universal Earphones Project. One
earpiece holds a proximity sensor, which if it's pointing at your ear, pumps out the left-channel, if it's facing away from you, it pumps out the right channel (pictured). It's also capable of working out if you've shared your sounds with a friend and will push out a mono mix to both headphones -- so neither of you miss out on the other half. Amazing to think all of the money and manpower that went into a solution to save you having to read the letters "L" and "R" and making a decision for yourself. After the break we've got a video explaining it, just be warned that the narrator is synthesized, it's not a serial killer.