People from around the world pitch their inventions, ranging from the unique to the practical, low-tech to super-sophisticated, at the ongoing International Exhibition of Inventions in Geneva.
His eyes hidden by sunglasses, the soft-spoken African gestured at the model camel on his table, its hump hidden by a mysterious contraption topped with a windmill.
"I'm the only Chadian with five patented inventions to his name," Oumar Ayoumbaye said proudly, before pitching his low-tech, camel-borne air conditioning unit which he says could revolutionise desert life.
"It's an extra flat aircon unit that's energy independent. It's destined for nomads or tourists who travel by camel, or even by elephant," Ayoumbaye told AFP.
"On top of that, it helps go easy on the water, because it keeps the camel's hump cool. And when a camel has a cool hump, it can go for 17 days without a drink".
Tucked in amongst corporate and university research staff at the International Exhibition of Inventions in Geneva, lone players like Ayoumbaye are what gives the annual show its feel.
"I would say that the best inventions are those created by people who in fact are active in another field. They bring a fresh, new, original approach," said Jean-Luc Vincent, the fair's founder.
Billed as the biggest showcase of its kind worldwide, the event's 42nd edition kicked off Wednesday and ends Sunday.
It has drawn a record 790 exhibitors from 45 countries.
From unique to practical ones
The inventions, all of which must be patented to go on show, range from the never-knew-you-needed-it to ultra-practical, and span the spectrum from low-tech to super sophisticated.
For those in the innovation business, Geneva is a potential goldmine.
The hunt for investors
Exhibitors pay an event fee of up to 1,200 Swiss francs ($1,360).
That can be a good investment if the fair helps them make the leap to market by sealing a licensing contract -- industrialists and distributors feature heavily among the 60,000 visitors.
Ayoumbaye's invention was inspired by traditional clay containers that allow water to seep out, creating humidity and cooling the air, which is spread by a simple windmill-driven fan but could also be solar-powered.
'It changed my life'
In the case of Frenchwoman Francoise Goubron, the seed was planted when she survived breast cancer in 2007 and bone cancer in 2011.
"I lost my hair, and there I was in the south of France, in a wig. It was 35 degrees Celsius in the shade, and my scalp was dripping," she told AFP.
From that experience was born her "Clim'Hair", a skullcap made of organic cotton which, when discreetly moistened in a cafe bathroom and worn under a wig, keeps the head cool for up to six hours.
Innovation in training shoe
Another inventor from Goubron's generation was Spaniard Domingo Cifo, 64, a former B-team midfielder with Catalan football powerhouses Barcelona. His idea for effort-increasing detachable weights on training shoes -- which he called PowerInstep -- came during treatment after a career-ending injury three decades ago.
A group from 101 Middle School in Beijing showed off their "Intelligent New Green Plant Louver Curtain" -- a combination of window-blind, air purifier and plant feature.AFP