765 exhibitors from 45 countries are presenting around 1000 products
They say there's a gadget for just about everything. That now includes boots which detect radiation and a kangaroo tail for weary humans who'd like a rest but can't be bothered to sit down.
These and a thousand other devices went on display Wednesday at the world's biggest inventions fair, where exhibitors from 45 countries showed off their weird and wacky designs in Geneva in the hope of attracting investors or buyers.
Peyman Sarhadi of Iran showed off his "super smart boot," which he hopes will become the Swiss army knife of footwear.
Equipped with sensors, it collects data on air temperature, humidity, location and the wearer's blood pressure, and then sends the information to a base camp. It can heat or cool the feet and can also measure radiation levels, a feat that might be useful given Iran's reputed nuclear ambitions - peaceful or otherwise.
Sarhadi claims the boot is already being tested by the Iranian army.
"It's useful," Sarhadi said in a remarkably understated sales pitch.
Emanuele Lopopolo of Italy presented a portable backrest that allows its wearer to take a break from standing by leaning back onto a telescopic pole.
"The kangaroo can rest its weight on its tail, so we've made the same thing for humans," he said, reclining at a 60-degree angle while passing spectators did their best not to trip over the pole.
Miracle tinctures and obscure industrial equipment aside, visitors may find the most useful inventions include a mouthwash-dispensing toothbrush, a braille photocopier, a foldable tandem bike and a vertical garden.
Jean-Marc Batard said the idea to build his pyramid-like garden came from his experience running a retirement home, where many elderly people complained about not being able to pursue their love of gardening because it was too hard for them to bend down.
The Frenchman came up with a modular wooden frame that can be modified to suit the gardener's horticultural preference - and reach.
While many inventors enjoy support from their governments or universities, some have invested large sums of their own money in unlikely gadgets in the hope of someday hitting the jackpot.
"I've spent €50,000 ($71,500) on the prototype, now I need an investor to make it in bulk," said Roberto Capomazza, demonstrating what he claims is the fastest shrimp peeling device ever invented.
And why did he devote so much money toward developing a rather simple kitchen implement?
"I love shrimp, but I hate using my fingers to peel them," he replied.
Malaysia's Mohd Farriz Basar poses with his invention, the smart motorcycle safety vest .
The safety vest is connected to the motorcycle's breaking mechanism and indicators so
as to provide better visibility to other drivers
Taiwan's Jack Chang poses with his invention a portable LED indicator
Southern Taiwan University's Tang Jing-Jou poses with his invention, a billards table with
trajectory recording capabilities during the opening day of the 39th International Exhibition
of Inventions, on April 6, 2010 in Geneva. The billard table is designed to have sensors and
LED indicators under its surface used to record the trajectory of the ball and show the strength in every shot.
France's Laurent Helewa poses with his invention, a toilet kit. Helewa's invention is a foldable
and reusable system of a dry, portable disposable toilet designed for nomadic, family or even
military use in case there is not a functional toilet
Iranian Payman Sarhadi presents his "super smart boots". Equipped with sensors,
it collects data on air temperature, humidity and the wearer's blood pressure,
and then sends them to base camp.
Switzerland's Marie Guerry (L) and Julia Vauche pose with their invention,
a shopping trolley with an opening system for easy unloading of goods without lifting them.
France's Jean-Marc Batard pose with his children next to his invention, a pyramidal
water-saving garden which allows elderly people to garden.
Taiwan's Juang Ying-Shen poses with her invention, high heels with interchangeable components
Spain's Manuel Artola poses with his invention, a vibrating silicone bracelet used for medical purpose.
France's Laurent Helewa stands on his invention, a toilet kit. Helewa's invention is a
foldable and reusable system of a dry, portable disposable toilet designed for nomadic,
family or even military use in case there is not a functional toilet nearby
In December 2010 a Pakistani man points to the height of floodwaters that swept through the village of Sindh in August.
At their peak, the flood waters were up to 20 feet (6 meters) deep in Sindh. By the time this picture was taken, the man's fields—seen in the background—were still under three feet (about a meter) of water.
"Officially, the humanitarian emergency response phase is over," Watkins said. "The focus now is very much on getting people's livelihoods back. We're working with the government of Pakistan, the UN, and local partners to help do that."
Seen in December 2010, a young girl stands next to a tree covered in spider webs in Sindh, Pakistan, near the intersection of two roads that had only recently reemerged from floodwaters.
At the height of the crisis, the flooded region covered an area the size of England. Nearly 2,000 people died during the disaster and 20 million people were affected, according to the Pakistani government.
"More people were affected by the flooding than the combined total of the Boxing Day Indian Ocean tsunami, 2005 Pakistan earthquake,  Haiti earthquake, and Hurricane Katrina," John Barrett, head of DFID's Flood Response Team, said in a statement.
As part of the international response, DFID mounted the U.K.'s largest humanitarian operation yet.
Trees rising above the floodwaters became safe havens for web-spinning spiders in Sindh, Pakistan, as seen in December 2010.
Most of the floodwaters in Sindh and the surrounding region have now receded, and people are slowly returning to what's left of their towns and villages.
"Virtually 90 percent of displaced populations in Pakistan have returned, but most of the communities that were there were completely destroyed," Watkins said.
Cocooned trees line the banks of a flooded rice paddy in Sindh, Pakistan, in December 2010. According to Watkins, the subsequent deaths of many of the web-covered trees has created a new problem for the residents of Sindh.
"The area is incredibly hot in summer, and there is very little natural foliage cover for people to use as shade to begin with," he said. Without the trees lining roads and fields, there will be little refuge from the summer sun.
A spider web enshrouds a tree in Sindh, Pakistan, in a December 2010 photograph.
The unusual cocoons were a mixed blessing: The huge webs ultimately killed many of the trees they covered, perhaps by reducing the amount of sunlight reaching their leaves.
But for a while, the webs also seemed to help trap more mosquitoes in the region, thereby reducing the risk of malaria, Watkins said.
Normally after a flood, the remaining stagnant water provides more opportunities for mosquitoes to breed. But people in Sindh reported far fewer mosquitoes than expected following the recent crisis.