Too lazy to make your bed? Create one
Italian engineer Enrico Berruti admits that it was simply his personal laziness that first prompted him to come up with an idea of a bed that makes itself.
Three years of mulling later, his first prototype is on show at the five-day International Exhibition of Inventions which started Wednesday in Geneva. The bed includes a contraption at the sides with tubes on which one wraps the sides of the duvet linen.
A button will then activate the tubes to smooth over duvet linen, while straps at the side will tighten the sheet itself. "To be honest, I am a little bit lazy so I thought of something to do the job (of making a bed) for me," he said, adding that the application could be practical for people with back problems who may not be able to bend.
Like many other inventors at the show, he is seeking a deal that would eventually lead to the commercialisation of his project.
More deals have been negotiated than ever. In 2006 over 30 million dollars' worth were struck, while in 2007, licences worth over 40 million dollars were negotiated, said the fair organiser.
Jean-Luc Vincent, who chairs the fair, said companies are increasingly "looking for ideas outside their walls".
"Procter and Gamble, for instance finds 40 per cent of its innovations outside its own R&D department. "The old idea, that the invention which will make a profit for the company should emerge from its own technical department is being abandoned," he said.
This year, about 720 exhibitors from 45 countries are hoping to get similar deals with venture capitalists or even businesses.
The rule of the exhibition is that the invention can only be exhibited once in Geneva, and must have some form of intellectual property rights protection.
Inventions range from food products - non-alcoholic beer jelly for breakfast, to automobile parts -- a device aimed at saving drivers from the pain of parallel parking, and heavy machinery - a drilling rig for underwater geological exploration.
Wei Feng, who came up with a device to help drivers who cannot park into parallel spaces, said: "In China there is a massive problem with parking. Everytime I pass by cars struggling to get into parallel parking lots, I think there must be a better way to do things."
So he came up with a device that could be fitted onto the bottom of a vehicle, and when the driver finds a lot, he would just have to press a button which would release the device onto the wheels of the car.
The device, which is a roller of sorts, will then slide the car into the lot. "Car manufacturers are using robotics to help drivers park in parallel lots, but my invention is a lot cheaper to make - it would cost just about $400 per car," he claimed.
The engineer, who funded his own journey to the fair, said: "Participating in the fair is not cheap, but I just had to try, in case there is someone out here who would be interested in this device."