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 Garry Clayton Thursday, 24 September 2015 23:48 posted by Garry Clayton

    Looks flimsy, fiddly for old people and dangerous for little babies fingers..... I say electrocute the designers until they get it right.

  • Comment Link Dom Thursday, 24 September 2015 23:11 posted by Dom

    having '3-in-one' is fine as there are currently 3 way adaptors anyway.
    My worry would indeed seem to be that theres no apparent fuse on the device, unless its somewhere we havant been shown on the pics.
    Also looks a pain in the arse to wire up as well.
    Nice idea, but I dont think you really gain much from it.

  • Comment Link Sybrand Thursday, 24 September 2015 22:38 posted by Sybrand

    The UK plugs are the only ones with fuses, I never actually saw the need for those, but that's just a continental's view... But for the concerned people there, it seems that the red dot is a little lidon the back of the plug is the place where the fuse is placed, so not so unsafe after all.

  • Comment Link Robin Thursday, 24 September 2015 22:13 posted by Robin

    Bravo! Some artists are engineers and some engineers artists, clever design. Am I right in thinking that the pins are are only conductive towards the end. It looks like about 40% of the pin is metal and would most likely be fully inserted into the socket before contacting the supply. Most likely the red insert houses the fuse.
    Good work, keep it up

  • Comment Link John hardiman Thursday, 24 September 2015 22:04 posted by John hardiman

    Appears to be fused (says fused on the side), I suspect that's what the red tab looks after. Just sayin

  • Comment Link Jon Ford Thursday, 24 September 2015 22:02 posted by Jon Ford

    What is the current capability? It must use sliding contacts and they could be of quite a low surface area, going by the photo's.

  • Comment Link R J Thursday, 24 September 2015 21:49 posted by R J

    To all those saying where is the fuse...what the bloody hell do you think that the massive red dot on the back is for? Learn to look for things.

  • Comment Link calmstillflat Thursday, 24 September 2015 21:17 posted by calmstillflat

    for all those asking where the fuse goes - it's clearly behind the piece of red plastic ! the picture with the paint covered socket shows this best (you can also just about make out that the word 'fused' on the plug - if you zoom in a little)

  • Comment Link Rob Thursday, 24 September 2015 21:04 posted by Rob

    Is the little red tab not a fuse holder? It might be a 20mm fuse instead of the old Imperial 1/4" ones, but that doesn't make it dangerous. And as for the live pins being exposed, they're as exposed as a standard pin is on a standard plug. That's why they're sleeved - to prevent contact while inserting or removing, just like the BS1363 standard plugs. Shutters on the 3-to-1 would be a concern, but they can be added very easily if required.

    Basically, many people here look to be just trying to find faults rather than see how this is simply a prototype concept that could easily be improved if necessary to meet safety requirements. And there's also nothing to say that BS1363 can't be updated - it's happened before. Or an entirely new standard be published to cover a new standard of connection. I suppose it's almost the sparky equivalent of trolling - there's always someone who thinks they're the expert and doesn't think anything should ever change because them and their limited knowledge might get left behind...

    Anyway, great project, great concept, and keep up the good work!

  • Comment Link me Thursday, 24 September 2015 20:53 posted by me

    rather similar to this one from 2012 ( well, the review is from 2012 )



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