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Non-cancelling earphones made to let world in

No need for big, clumsy headphones when Thanko's around

Thanko, our favourite purveyor of all things wackily Japanese, has come up with a product that is either as daft as usual or very canny – we really can't decide.

The 'Sound Lives Stereo Earphone' has two main selling points, according to the company's garish website, including the facts that your ears won't get sore and that you can hear things other than whatever's coming from your music player.

Swivelling stalk

For ¥1,980 (£9.80), the adjustable speaker position is a surprising innovation – it's on a stumpy stalk that swivels through up to 90 degrees to nestle just so in the outer ear.

It's the other headline feature that is surprising – the headphones let in sounds from the environment in the name of safety.

Safety last?

The website extols the virtues of being able to hear "people, trains and traffic", which is surely wise, but isn't this just licence to use headphones in places where it would otherwise be dangerous to do so?

Perhaps modern Homo sapiens is just too wedded to his iPod to even consider not wandering onto train tracks, in which case we salute you, Thanko.