A pair of headphones that use infrared sensors to interpret facial movements as a way of controlling a digital audio player have been developed by Japanese researchers.

"An iPod can start or stop music when the wearer sticks his tongue out, like in the famous Einstein picture. If he opens his eyes wide, the machine skips to the next tune. A wink with the right eye makes it go back," Kazuhiro Taniguchi from Osaka University's Graduate School of Engineering Science told news agency AFP.

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The headphones could even monitor your mood and play a track to help you change the way you feel. "It monitors natural movements of the face in everyday life and accumulates data. If it judges that you aren't smiling enough, it may play a cheerful song."

It is thought the headphones will be patented in Japan before being made available to the public in the next few years.

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