RCA student radically improves the UK plug 01.07.09

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The show-stopper at this year's Royal College of Art graduate show was a plug. About time someone tackled the UK's clunky electrics

The Royal College of Art's graduate show has opened, and this year, the show-stopper was a plug. Min-Kyu Choi impressed every passer by with his neat, apparently market-ready plug that folds down to the width of an Apple MacBook Air. "The MacBook Air is the world's thinnest laptop ever. However, here in the UK, we still use the world's biggest three-pin plug," says Choi.

Choi's plug is just 10mm wide when it is folded. To unfold it, the two live pins swivel 90 degrees, and the plastic surround folds back around the pins so the face of the plug looks the same as a standard UK plug. The idea produced a spin off, too. Choi created a multi-plug adaptor, a compact standard plug sized unit with space for three folded plugs to slot in, as well as one that charges USB devices.

It's so plausible and so obvious a product that it should produce a few red faces; how many more years were we going to attach our palm sized mobiles and wafer thin laptops to an object that's barely been touched since its first design in 1946? Choi picked an everyday product that most other designers find too mundane to dabble with and drastically improved it - exactly the kind of thinking that we should be celebrating right now.




Anna Bates



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  • Comment Link Marcus Friday, 25 September 2015 09:26 posted by Marcus

    Great piece of design. Hopefully it can be modified so a fuse could be inserted in the plastic loop or the hinge and it could see use in the UK

  • Comment Link Sparky Friday, 25 September 2015 08:32 posted by Sparky

    This is fantastic. Perhaps the real message here is that the UK's antiquated electrical system badly needs a rethink and an update. The old, clunky 3-pin plugs are an absolute joke. They are NO safer than Euro 2-pin plugs (no earth and without fuse) if the electrical system is done right (ie. RCBO).

  • Comment Link Ben Sayell Friday, 25 September 2015 08:03 posted by Ben Sayell

    Im not a plug genius but looking at it the red circle, that looks like where the fuse is housed? As for the live pin being exposed when the sides are folded back i think that's why only the tips are metal, the plug needs to be inserted almost all the way to become live and by then none of the metal is exposed. Not that i really care now i live in europe but it is a clever design, BZ Choi

  • Comment Link William G Friday, 25 September 2015 07:05 posted by William G

    I have to agree about the fuse question, where is it if it is in the plug at all? How difficult is the plug to wire up? I think the design has a lot if merits, i dont think it is as dangerous as made out as the live/neutral pins are no more exposed than usual, they arent live till the plug is pushed in practically all the way anyway. Id have to question the construction as to whether or not the moving parts can withstand years of use and abuse. I recommend continued development/testing, see where it goes! :)

  • Comment Link Jason Friday, 25 September 2015 06:37 posted by Jason

    Great design... love it... I can see exactly where the fuse goes so I don't understand some previous stupid comments.... OF COURSE THERE'S A FUSE!!!

  • Comment Link Stephen Russell Friday, 25 September 2015 03:01 posted by Stephen Russell

    Very innovative, but is it really smaller than the plugs we already use? Given that most plugs are not mobile why is the size important? In use it appears to take up the same space except when tripled up.

  • Comment Link Jon Friday, 25 September 2015 01:09 posted by Jon

    Only suitable for very low current applications, likely to overheat if used for an electric fire or kettle etc

  • Comment Link Amie Friday, 25 September 2015 00:41 posted by Amie

    Fantastic idea, I can't see why people are being so dismissive?
    The fuse issue could be hidden into the 'handle' and as for the unshuttered sockets, well i'm pretty sure they could be easlily incorrporated into the design ton.
    Come on guys, this not coming to a shop near you soon. It is a clever prototype with areas for development. Ideas are meant to be built upon. Don't just dismiss it at the first hurdle x

  • Comment Link dipper Friday, 25 September 2015 00:37 posted by dipper

    I'm going to guess the fuse is behind the red tab

  • Comment Link David May Friday, 25 September 2015 00:20 posted by David May

    The main design fault with the UK plug is that the cable is side-entry. This means that if someone trips on the cable, either it will stay in the socket and they will fall, or the plug will break exposing live connections. The cable should come directly from the front of the plug - as it does everywhere else in the world - then when someone trips, it simply disconnects.

    This change could - and should - be incorporated in the proposed design.


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