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.

www.madeinmind.co.uk

 

Words

Anna Bates

 

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76 comments

  • Comment Link David van Kemenade Thursday, 24 September 2015 18:42 posted by David van Kemenade

    Over here, on the continent, we've had an excellent plug that is flat, stylish and easy to use since 1963!

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  • Comment Link Marek Thursday, 24 September 2015 18:31 posted by Marek

    You UK guys must be aware of the fact that in rest of the europe we use smaller plugs, without fuses. And for some small devices (like USB charger or desk lamp) we don't use three pins with ground - just two, as not all devices need the ground pin (i.e. plastic lamp has nothing to ground actually).
    We're using it since years and this is not a security problem. All the houses and buildings are required to have fuses. I have *never* heard of any problem with this.

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  • Comment Link Paul Thursday, 24 September 2015 17:46 posted by Paul

    Three plugs in one isn't a fire hazard it depends on amperages and fuses.

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  • Comment Link Jim Thursday, 24 September 2015 17:33 posted by Jim

    The fuse probably goes in the fuse receptor which has a red circular cover. It can clearly be seen in the picture if you bother to look before trolling.

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  • Comment Link fak Thursday, 24 September 2015 17:05 posted by fak

    Wow, old article. This is from 2009. The product has been on sale since 2012 and can be bought here: http://www.themu.co.uk/

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  • Comment Link Arthur Thursday, 24 September 2015 17:04 posted by Arthur

    The fuse is in the bottom part. The red thing is where the fuse is located.

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  • Comment Link Robin Thursday, 24 September 2015 16:21 posted by Robin

    All these people banging on about fuses as if there's no room for one in the design. It might even be in that little red bit. Nothing to stop you plugging it in when it's folded, and the live pins are exposed when you do? Utter crap again, as the only pin you'd be able to plug in is the earth, and that won't be transmitting any electricity if it's plugged in on its own. Regarding safety, has nobody on this page heard the word PROTOTYPE? Of course it wouldn't be allowed to be sold if it was unsafe. People love to cut down an idea in Britain, don't they?

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  • Comment Link Tony Watkins Thursday, 24 September 2015 16:09 posted by Tony Watkins

    This news is actually quite old. Choi designed this in 2009 and it went into production as a USB charger in 2012. Sadly, it seems he hasn't solved the technical issues for it as a replacement for a conventional plug.

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  • Comment Link skyking Thursday, 24 September 2015 15:22 posted by skyking

    For all those querying the fuse. If you look closely on the final image you'll see the marking 'FUSED'. I'd assume the fuse is mounted behind the large red dot.

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  • Comment Link PS Thursday, 24 September 2015 15:09 posted by PS

    This year? Its from 2009 i believe, same year i graduated.

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