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back to article Designer pitches flat-pack power plug

Carrying power plugs - especially Britain's big ones - can be the bugbear of any gadget-laden traveller. But one designer may have come up with a solution: a folding plug. Can't see the video? Download Flash Player from Adobe.com Although still just a prototype, designer Min Kyo Choi has essentially rewired a traditional UK …

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Unhappy

Now you're teasing us.

This is a great idea and perfect for traveling. Am I going to have to wait 7 years before this is available?

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Arrrgh no!

There's nothing wrong with the other folding pins type near the front of the video. Only about 8mm fatter than this one!

Trust a Macbook Airhead to sacrifice safety for MOAR THINNAR!

Oh, and Good Luck™ getting BS1363 certified! UK plugs are regarded as the safest in the world for a reason, folks.

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Go

Genius!

I want about 40 of em with the adapters and USB options!

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Go

YESSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!

Lovely, brings a new dimension (Vertical) to lateral thinking. Who do we petition to get this adopted as a way forward from the clunky Brit plug?

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Pint

Wow

That is such a fantastic idea! How do they get around the pulling of the wires out of the pins when twisting it though? I'd assume there would be a fair bit of slack, well, just enough.

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Alert

Still not done the hard parts

The hardest part of this idea is probably making the mechanical fold-out part work. Because of the high voltages there are serious safety problems if it isn't reliable. And the mechanism has to be small and cheap, neither of which help with reliability.

Equally hard may be to get approval from the standards and safety people to sell this design.

But it's a neat idea.

(Incidentally, in the picture of a hand holding one of these plugs, the "plug" is just the plastic model after it's been painted. I.e. it's a solid blob of plastic in the shape of the folded plug).

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Pint

Sign me up for a box load

Thas a way cool idea

Beer - cos I would buy her (?) a beer for such a cool idea.

Someone needs to bring this to market before i fly to Germany next weekend.

(btw dont get the foster parents are dead icon - some film thing ??)

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Get this made!

One of the best bits of design I've seen in a long time - Someone get this into production NOW!

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Nice but...

pity the transformer will still be the size of Optimus Prime (geddit, transformer, Optimus. I'm wasted on you guys).

Where's the Transformer icon ?

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Nice one.

Most excellent.

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We need mass product of these now!!!

This is such a cool concept especially the multi plug with usb options!

I would happily fill my house with these!!!

Start making them now!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Grenade

toddler-tastic

My 1 year old is gonna love this! A plug he can pull out with one finger!

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Superb

As long as it's reliable, not a fire risk etc, looks superb. I'll be buying at least a couple of these if they ever get to market.

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Safety issues

It's a lovely idea - very ingenious. Being able to use it folded is brilliant. If they ever sold one, I'd buy it like a shot.

However. It would fail approval in the UK due to the finger access issues.

1) You can use it in a standard socket with the live and neutral pins in position, but with the finger shield still folded.

2) In "compact" mode, the live pin would be too accessable.

The pins are shrouded which might improve matters - someone nearer to the approvals process could say if this shrouding on modern plugs means that the minimum faceplate dimensions are now smaller.

Maybe if the shroud folded forwards it would be a goer?

You used to be able to get a plug with folding pins - but the manufacturer stopped making them.

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Wot- no "WIN" icon? I shall use "none" in protest.

Epic win. If these can be made durable and safe, this is awesome. I know our plugs are bulky, but I maintain that we have the best system in the world. The format of the sockets and the overall durability and safety are unrivalled. Now French plugs on the other hand... an earth pin STICKING OUT OF THE WALL!? Who on "earth" thought that was a good idea. They look awful and hurt if you accidentally bash yourself on one.

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Brilliant

Robin

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Badgers

WANTS

x11

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@ Ryan 7

Sorry Ryan, but the old folding plug is fiddly and prone to failure because of the way it folds. This looks like a much sounder idea mechanically. But you're right about the difficulty in getting BS approval.

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Troll

Why the H! do they call the wires Live and Neutral?

It's AC, and there's NO NEUTRAL plane on AC.

Anyone don't believe me?

Grab the 'Neutral' and the Ground wire at the same time...

I'll bet you get the same shock as if you grab the 'Live' and Ground wire...

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Coat

Hasn't he been to South Africa?

British plugs aren't the biggest... in South Africa, they use BS546-style 15A unfused plugs - which are larger.

Mine's the one with a universal travel adaptor in the pocket.

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Cringe

I cant think of a way to make that work that wont result in the thing melting/catching fire/lasting 2 days.

The UK plug is the safest in the world and yes it is a bit clunky but hey, having hd US plugs bite me/fall out the wall/arc till they melt I quite like ours.

Good luck getting approval

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nice...

seems obvious now someone has said it - like all good ideas!

however there is the concern about the twist part and long term reliability, as well as a potential issue with the fold out safety flaps being nothing more than a pointless gesture - i doubt you'd get any sort of safety certification, but i don't think that safety certificates are needed for honk kong's ebay sellers! but safety would be a problem for any mass produced products wanting to use it

also nice timing with an article about a plug design, because saturday i was stamping on the floor (drunken dancing) bare footed and was reminded of the biggest problem UK plugs have, the hard way... did it so hard that a big black lump and associated pain is still there now - still can't walk properly and it hurts to wear even just socks :(

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about time

I've never understood while all mobile devices don't come with the folding prong plugs shown at the start of the video; they half the tickness of the plug and remove the prongs that make fitting them in bags so much more difficult.

This new design would be a substantial improvement, especially if they can be used in their folded state. However the regulations for plug safety in the UK are very high and I don't think this device would easily pass the tests. Saying that though, there is no reason with modern plastics why a plug like this couln't be made to standard. It would be a question of whether it were economical or not... Guess that won't be a problem for the mac crowd, they love spending over the odds for things. Just remember to put an apple on it along with the £10 plice tag.

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Heart

Another WOW please

That is really neat!

Where can get one?

One? sod that, where can get a whole load?

If she can get the folded flat version approved too then I'll have them by the bucket load.

Just so long as I don't have to have a bloody airbook too.

Now there really is no reason for foreigners to be allowed to carry on endangering themselves using other plugs types. Please get this accepted as the world standard plug ASAP!

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Pint

Nice...

...although I can't say I'm entirely convinced about the safety aspect. Lots of folding seems likely to lead to lots of fatigue in parts which are also carrying lots of current. Okay, so the actual contacts will slide rather than fold, but still.

I liked the placement of the fuse, and the ability to stack plugs was a genius touch. If it could be made safe and reliable, this would win my vote.

One quick point: I'm not sure I can see how I'd rewire it... ;)

(@Kev K: You're kidding, right? Tell me you're kidding.)

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Never mind the folding plug

the multi adapter is much more interesting, even if the plug is made permanently folded, if 4 of them are sold with the multi adapter it will be a winner. The folding plug I suspect will not make it to market, too many moving parts for conductors carrying 220V to make it cheap and safe.

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Wow...

The idea looks like great - it also has that "D'oh! Why didn't I think of that feel about it...". Let's hope it makes it into production.

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Looks like it could be good.

But they don't even seem to have plans to make a working prototype using moulded resin or something (or whatever these things are usually made from) -- never mind mass producing it.

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Impressed

It's a neat idea as long as they can make it reliable, you wouldn't want the connections getting loose. However they will need to make sure the pins can't be extended without the flaps being out, otherwise I think it would fail safety regs.

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Nice design

Might need a bit of work for BS1363, but that won't affect HongKong and Malaysia and other countries that use the same plug.

@Nice but ..

Transformer? 90% of the world uses the same voltage as us, and there are dual voltage power supplies/chargers supplied with most laptops, phones, MP3 players, etc. nowadays, for the backwards countries that still use 110V.

However, the adaptor[s] you need to carry will be bigger than the plug.

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WTF?

@ Kev K

Why the hell would you need a UK 3-pin plug in Germany?

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Bliss

No longer will I fear ever treadding on an up turned plug!

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Grenade

@Ryan 7

Ah yes, but for some reason there isn't a plague of electrocution-related carnage in the rest of the civilised world. Could this be due to the use of proper circuit breakers or spring-loaded, quick blow fuses with multiple redundant levels of protection at the source in the more sensible parts of the planet? Why yes, it could!

Actually British plugs are regarded as the laughing stock of the world if you're sat in any part of it other than Britain. Elsewhere they like to fix the problem at source rather than slapping a patch over it.

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Terminator

@ Kev K

T2 of Course!!! Hasta La Vista, Baby.

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WTF?

@TeeCee

We have proper RCDs in the UK too. There's nothing bad about our wiring standards. Our plug and socket standards just happen to be superior

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Removal Force

I like that the plug also seems to have solved another "issue" with the UK plug - those with weaker fingers can't grip it tightly enough to remove it - the hole in the main body should make that much easier. Though if removing a plug is an issue for you I guess the fiddly folding mechanism won't be much easier.

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Pint

Fuse

I hope this is designed NOT to take a 13A fuse, and how long before some dumbass tries to plug it in without unfolding it? Not BSI approved I suspect

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FAIL

@TeeCee

Really? Because from my experience the standard US and EU plugs are a complete nightmare, they wobble in the sockets and the cable generally extends straight out from the plug (and thus the wall). Multi-way adapters then make this problem hugely worse.

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Alert

hmm

great idea

but i can see the fuse slot getting lose very quickly and the fuse comming out all the time

What it needs is a drop down latch or something.

i would never give up our easy to disasemble and re assemble plugs compared to others i have painfully used

now i dont know what icon to use

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Grenade

HEHE I'm such a child

"In between the flaps there’s a finger slot"

*Sniggers some more*

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Megaphone

@ Trygve Henriksen re. Why the H! do they .....

"It's AC, and there's NO NEUTRAL plane on AC."

Try to slowly read and understand this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ground_and_neutral

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FAIL

WHERE is the "live" wire running?!

Through that flimsy, "Just begging to be snapped with a clumsy vacuum swipe" plastic on the back of the plug?

Sweet baby Jeebus, that's an accident just SCREAMING to happen.

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FAIL

Re:Why the H! do they call the wires Live and Neutral?

@Trygve

The icon says all there is to know about your comment.

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Coat

EE here

After watching the video and paying special attention to the few short glimpses it gives into how they intend to connect the pins to the wire leads, I have to say that this looks impractical.

Apparently, they intend for the pins to have spring-loaded wipers that contact slip-rings on the pivot. I think the safety/certification folks might have a bit of an issue with that.

Nice try, guys. Now, on to rev. 2, once you find an electrical engineer to help you.

(mine's the one with the wires hanging out of the pocket)

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Boffin

@ Trygve

Earth and neutral are usually bonded together.

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@Trygve Henriksen

If you get a shock grabbing the neutral and ground / earth wires at the same time, you have serious wiring issues. I have done exactly what you suggest and suffered no ill effect. Anyone doubt me? Take a volt meter and measure between neutral and ground / earth. If you read more than a volt or two there is something wrong, call an electrician.

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Troll

Geez...

@Trygve Henriksen: of course there is. Once you have devices on teh circuit, of course, there will be some voltage there also.

The city of Delft in teh Netherlands used to have no neutral - just 2 lives out of phase. Ask them how well that worked (rolls eyes)

I like the idea, but why don't you brits just adopt the plug standard northern europe uses? A double-insulated device like a laptop PC shouldn't need a ground pin, so you could then use the nice, small europlug standard. Which is also less than 1cm. While you're at it, have the Euro too.

That having been said, this is still a brilliant idea!

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Anonymous Coward

@ By TeeCee Posted Wednesday 24th June 2009 11:09 GMT

Let me guess american ?

British plugs are safe, and yes we do use circuit breakers and the rest.

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Coat

Not a patch on a Go!Con adapter

Nice, but I'll still take a Go!Con worldwide adapter over this any day, now those things are truly flat-tastic!

( linky - http://warrior.co.jp/E/products.htm#goconw2 )

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Anonymous Coward

Biggest

The video says the UK plug is the world's biggest but I reckon the one they use in South Africa could be bigger.

I once bought a HP printer which also came with S.A.mains cable...and with a US one....and a European one. Well done HP. Keep packing stuff we don't need in huge boxes.

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