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Creativity has no limits at this fair

Published on 03/04/2008

3 April 2008

GENEVA – If you are allergic to pollen, too lazy to make your bed or annoyed to learn that the pretty woman in the Web chat is really a man, a solution might be at hand from the world’s largest inventions fair.

More than 700 of the world’s most creative minds have set up stands at the International Exhibition of Inventions to show off brainchildren ranging from heavy-duty engineering feats to wacky little gadgets like the running alarm clock that will make sure you get out of bed in the morning.

The fair, which runs until Sunday, features 1,000 new inventions of all kinds by companies, independent researchers, universities and just people with a good idea to remedy smelly feet or prevent hotel staff from stealing money out of room safes.

Labour-saving devices for people averse to exercise are a recurring theme at this year’s 36th edition.

One notable invention is the self-making bed which spreads the linen at the push of a button. The bed sheet is rolled out by two fasteners moving along metal bars on each side of the bed. Once the sheet is spread over the bed, the two bars are automatically lowered.

“I was thinking of people with diseases when inventing the bed,” said the Italian inventor, Enrico Berruti, “but also because I’m a little bit lazy myself.”

Numerous medical inventions range from an injection-performing robot to a tool for diagnosing stomach ulcers with ultra sound. Among the simplest is artificial nose hair.
Two little nubs of coiled pipe cleaner connected by a U-shaped wire block pollen and dust when placed in the nostrils.

The medical device reinforces natural nose hair to protect people from inhaling polluting and allergy-causing particles in the air, said Gengsheng Sun, a physician living in the United States.

“Most people do not have enough nose hair,” he said. Sun said he got the idea because his wife was suffering from heavy allergies and didn’t want to take antihistamine.

The artificial nose hair can also be impregnated with medicine so that it can be absorbed gradually through the mucous membrane, Sun said. Insulin for people suffering from diabetes, for example, could be administered through the artificial nose hair, instead of injecting it, he said.

Many inventions at this year’s exhibit feature environment-protecting devices. One machine dries kitchen garbage, eliminating food bacteria and odour. Air circulating in the little oven reduces the waste to dried solid cubes. A filter at the back absorbs odours. It uses the same amount of electricity as a 100-watt light bulb.

Some funny items at this year’s show include an alarm clock on small wheels that forces sleepyheads to get out of bed because they have to chase the device around the room to turn off the annoying alarm.

Another wacky invention is an e-mail analyser to determine whether the person you meet in the chat room is not a man pretending to be a woman or the other way around.

The computer programme developed by a Malaysian university professor analyses e-mails according to the number of words, exclamation marks, emotions and compliments to determine if the sender is male or female.

Women tend to be more expressive than men, said Dianne Cheong Lee Mei, but she refused to go into detail about how the programme unveils the gender of the unseen Internet partner.

Inventions can be entered only once at the Geneva show and must be patented. However, entries are not necessarily tested or screened by national authorities.

[AP / Expatica]

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