The normally stuffy suits at IBM must've raided the ex-Xerox PARC labs for their latest project, as it's a bit out of left field. IBM is working on a steering wheel that has the ability to read a driver's lips and also serve as a drum machine. It does have some practical uses, as well — as if anything could be more practical than a lip-reading in-car drum machine.

The IBM system, which goes by the name of "Artificial Passenger," can use touch-sensitive controls to perform basic functions throughout the vehicle like rolling down the windows, controlling the media player and answering the phone. The camera mounted in the middle of the steering wheel can perform similar functions by reading the lips of the driver. But the real fun with this system is the beatbox integration.

Think of it like Guitar Hero on your steering wheel. The touch controls are at 10 and 2, where your hands should be regardless, allowing you can tap out beats with the accompanying music. Redundant controls and a lip-reading camera are also integrated into the passenger side, so when you do have a passenger, they can enjoy the fun as well. Check out the video above for a full demonstration of the very strange system. [Autopia]