A regular or electric wheelchair might suit someone who has lost the use of their legs, but for those suffering from muscular dystrophy or ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) who have lost control of their body below the neck, researchers from the University of Miyazaki have decided to make the most of what's available by designing a system that controls wheelchairs with facial expressions. A clench of the teeth starts and stops the machine, while left and right turns are controlled by blinking with the respective eyes. Speed control is a more complicated matter, so that's been relegated to the chair, which will continue to accelerate until integrated proximity sensors detect obstacles. While there are other, admittedly cooler, ways of intelligently controlling wheelchairs — mind control, for instance — those systems are still in development. The team at Miyazaki is aiming for commercial release of their as-yet-unnamed system by next year. They also plan to implement goggles that will taking the facial reading duties from the wired electrodes currently in use. Video demo after the break.