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The Weird and Wacky Wow Geneva

The 33rd International Exhibition of Inventions in Geneva has ended and while the motives of many were fame and fortune as inventors searched out investors, some were just there to make visitors go wow.

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A navigation system for the blind caused jaws to drop in Geneva

The Swiss city of Geneva played host to some of the most creative minds on the planet: Over 1000 inventions from 42 countries were on display at the 33rd annual Geneva inventors fair with every single one being exhibited for the first time ever. All exhibitors were looking for a patent, and a sponsor.

Inventors have long had to contend with being portrayed as wacky eccentrics stumbling from darkened laboratories to blink self-consciously in the light of publicity once their work is done.

While the stereotype remains, the reality shows that inventors are no longer the bumbling social misfits whose imaginations forge the world around us. Many are driven as much by financial success and acclaim as by the desire to help humanity.

Despite the contemporary incentives of fame and fortune, the inventors at the International Exhibition of Inventions still managed to enforce the image that their ideas come predominantly from leftfield.

The weird and wonderful on show

Among some of the wilder creations on show this year were the folding fins that allow divers to walk without falling over and the cycling crash helmet that unfolds from a backpack in the event of a fall.

Erfindermesse in Genf Schweiz

Holding two coconut shells in his hands, Dan Palil of Malaysia wears his invention, a motorcycle helmet using waste material of coconut fibers at the 33rd International Exhibition of Inventions, New Techniques and Products in Geneva, Switzerland

One Malaysian invention that has attracted attention is a coconut-husking machine, more so for the innovative use of the leftovers. Inventor Dan Pilal told reporters that the husks are ideal for making crash helmets which, he claimed, adhere to government safety standards.

Another invention which may turn out to be the next extreme sport fad, or not, was the freebouncing board, a mix of skateboarding and kitesurfing. Freebouncing, according to its Swiss inventor, involves a skateboard being strapped to one's feet and jumping up and down while hanging from a specially-adapted bungee rope slung from a bridge or some other structure.

Useful innovation

Erfindermesse in Genf Schweiz

Stuart Rees of Australia presents his invention, the double chuck drill at the 33st International Exhibition of Inventions, New Techniques and Products in Geneva, Switzerland. The electric hand drill features two distinct chucks that automatically change to allow different drill bits or drivers as required, allowing for safer and faster construction.

Other inventions were more down-to-earth and useful, such as the device for collecting rainwater that can then be used to water a garden or flush toilets, or the tiny GPS mini-chip that could help owners find lost pets. Fitted on a dog’s collar, it gives a location within a ten-meter radius.

However, the jury prize went to an invention from France: a new, non-polluting method of cleaning the hulls of boats, without taking them out of the water.

But the Inventors Oscar prize, went, perhaps surprisingly to Ahmed Alhashash from Kuwait for his airbags which can be incorporated into shirts, jackets or suits, for motorcyclists.

A fair with international appeal

The fair attracted inventors from all over the globe and has become very popular with some nations, in particular Malaysia, Russia, France and Iran over its recent history.

The Malaysians occupied around a quarter of the fair’s floor space, while 53 Iranian exhibitors turned up after the Iranian government decided to lend financial support to its delegation -- last year, a local inventor returned with an award from the exhibition.

Around two-thirds of the exhibitors were companies or institutes, with the remaining third made up of individual inventors. The fair is mainly a place for investors and inventors to meet but actual sales of products are restricted to a small area where 40 exhibitors show off their wares.

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  • Date 12.04.2005
  • Author DW staff (nda)
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  • Permalink http://p.dw.com/p/6Uzq
  • Date 12.04.2005
  • Author DW staff (nda)
  • Print Print this page
  • Permalink http://p.dw.com/p/6Uzq