Geng Shuai, a 31-year-old inventor from China, recently gained popularity online for his off-the-wall inventions.
Dubbed by his fans “The Useless Edison,” the former welder has been building contraptions that seem to have no practical use but to amuse its creator and his online followers.
Among his many quirky creations include an earthquake-proof noodle bowl, a watermelon-holder, a metal slipper that doubles as a stool, and a hair comb fashioned from a meat cleaver.
“People say my inventions are useless, but I think there are two dimensions to usefulness: practicality and amusement,” Geng was quoted as saying by The Washington Post. “I like doing this. So it’s useful.”
Geng, who grew up tinkering and building in his family’s pump factory in Hebei, reportedly did not get a formal education.
However, he has made significant use of his welding skills and creativity to come up with designs that, while impractical, are undeniably fascinating.
To follow his passion, he quit his job and tried selling his creative pieces, but very few people actually purchased them. His most popular, a small canon made from soldered metal nuts, sold two or three pieces on WeChat.
Geng then found a way to earn some revenue from his hard work by livestreaming some of his works online. Since he started, Geng has racked up over 100 million views and gained some 2 million fans on the video-sharing site Kwai.
In his videos, Geng demonstrates his creative process, showing how he makes his inventions and then how to use them.
His unintentionally comical delivery often captivates his audience, who are usually happy to donate mobile phone “tips” for his performances.
“People might not want to buy my inventions, but they like watching my videos, so they support me by tipping,” he shared.
As a token of appreciation, he places the names of his biggest tippers on plaques on the wall in his workshop, which is part of the backdrop of his videos. His biggest tip was from a delighted fan who sent him $720.
Geng showcases a new invention and posts two or three videos a week. At the moment, each live broadcast earns him about $150.
According to Geng, the money is enough to support his wife, two children and his brother, who helps him in shooting the videos.
Geng’s wife, Ji Xiangying, admitted that while she was against his decision to quit his steady job for doing online videos, she “came to accept it after seeing how many people like his inventions.”
Geng, who names inventor Nikola Tesla as his hero, prefers to be known as an inventor rather than an entertainer.
“Chinese people love inventions and inventing stuff, but because of economic development, most people don’t have the time to do it,” he explained. “That’s why I am popular — they watch me making things because they can’t make things themselves.”
Featured image via YouTube / 一条