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back to article Flat-pack plug designer wins top award

Young designer Min-Kyo Choi has bagged the Design Museum-backed Brit Insurance Design Award 2010 for his novel take on Britain's bulky three-pin power plug. Choi's design, which Reg Hardware featured back in June 2009, packs the standard UK plug in to a flat unit 48 x 44 x 10mm. The Choi Plug Design Award winner: Choi's three- …

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Wow!

Who would have thought that the awful 13A plug design could be turned into something elegant?

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Well deserved

I was gobsmacked when I saw a video presenting this design a few months back, it's a long time since I've seen a product design that's made me say "WOW" like that.

A massive improvement to the function AND form of the standard three pin plug in my opinion and I really, really hope that Choi gets the recognition he deserves and that we are able to get plugs like this on consumer products from every manufacturer.

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Joke

doesn't look safe to me!

... just look what it did to those wall sockets!

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Congratulations

I'm really pleased this design has been recognised, I saw this about a year ago and I've been waiting for it to find its way to my favourite gadgets. I'm really tired of having chargers that fold up nicely but have a bloody great UK plug on the end that makes packing them in carry cases a real problem.

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WTF?

Waste of fucking time

They shouldn't be handing out awards until the thing actually works and is BS approved.

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Grenade

Isn't it

an award for design??

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Boffin

Re: Ins't it

Sure, it is easy to come up with smart arse design for something if you don't actually have to make it work. The hard part is making it manufacturable, and safe. That work that will need to be done by someone who has knowledge of materials and manufacturing processes, i.e. someone with a *real* degree. Until that is done this very clever piece of design is utterly pointless.

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But when can I buy one

Has she got "type approval" for it yet.

Is she allowed to sell it?

Is anyone going to make it?

Like all the best ideas it is so obvious once you've seen it. It is a wonderfully simple design and an answer to a real problem. The plug for my netbook is a real pain.

(Mind the power supply for my new full sized laptop is so big it damn near needs wheels, so an elegant mini plug is hardly needed there)

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She??

The judges praised 'his' design.....

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mwk
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If they're safe

he deserves to get rich.

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Let's hope we see them on laptop supplies

Many years ago I worked for a laptop repairer and used to see lots of smashed screens where basically the 3-pin plug had been put in the outer compartment of the laptop bag and an impact had pushed it through on to the screen.

This would stop that - well done!

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Joke

you earn too much...

to willingy cut of a nice little revenue stream like that! lol!!!

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Socket?

Can't help looking at the folded plug and thinking, why not move the holes in the socket inline to match, and save space. The foldy-plug would fit both old and new sockets.

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If you look at the original

article on Reg in June he has designed a socket just like that!

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If I remember the original video

That was one of the proposals they'd had, was a smaller n-gang adaptor, using the folded up design

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Is this actually going to go into production at some point?

Ever since I first saw this idea I've wanted one for my laptop. It would make the power brick much more portable.

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Smart

Brit mains plugs/sockets have always been safest. Now they're also the coolest.

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I beg to differ

Australian sockets are just as safe - you absolutely can't force a plug in the wrong way.

Having said that - nice plug (love the folding) but I can't help feel it'd be nicer if the handle could fold flat when the plug was in use, to minimise the amount it juts out from the wall.

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Pint

Not so much

Plugging a fused appliance into an AC supply "the wrong way" only becomes a hazard when there's a fault.

Got a few Aussie bits and pieces in the house that we use with adaptors. Compared to Euro plugs they're not bad, and at least Oz wall sockets are switched, but you can still poke metal objects in there too easily. The plugs ain't fused either which can create a fire hazard if a fault develops in a low-power appliance which causes it to draw more current than the cable is rated for.

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Size of plugs

I've honestly never understood why UK plugs are so absolutely ginormous. The plugs here in Australia carry the same voltage and current and they're half the size or less. And we don't see any higher a rate of auto-Darwinism with our power supplies.

Nevertheless, this is a really cool design, probably better than our Aussie plugs too!

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Thought

Oz plugs were only rated 10A?

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Very Cupertinean

Nice that he designed it ready to go for Apple. They won't have to change anything to fit in with their 'house style' for their power adapters.

More seriously, hopefully we'll be able to buy these soon as it's a real pain fitting a standard UK plug into my laptop bag.

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Excellent...

Always likes the look of this...

Now if only it got BS or CE approval and a distribution deal...

Oh, and don't dodge making that slim multiplug either!

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A great future at Apple awaits....

Neat design and in very Appletastic colours, just the thing for Jonny Ives to want to use.

I wonder how you would manually wire one though?

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Yes, yes..

... but when can we buy them ? I want 3. Yesterday.

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Can I enter next years...

..with a socket compatible with the folded up version so you don't have to bother with the faff.

Then the year after a socket that's compatible with both the regular plug and flat plug..

Now, nearly two years to think of what to put in the year after (that sounds wide open to innuendo)..

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Next year

A foldable wall with a socket? There's never a socket when you need in a cafe..

:-)

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So...

... when can we expect to see these hit the market? I'd LOVE to be able to pack my carry on and laptop cases with these rather than having to fudge the current plugs in.

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Coat

this is a title

meethinks a more elegant solution would have involved ditching that overengineered crap you brits call plug and replacing it with something along the lines of something Europlug compatible.

At least this design fits my coats pocket nicely

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Earth?

Europlug is (a) low current and more importantly (b) has no Earth connection. How so many countries around the world have accepted unearthed mains connections I will never understand.

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Coat

exelent....

I bet the designers of laptop power supplies will be one of the first to adopt this type of plug,

The psu is always a bug bare when fitting a laptop into a case. it

I bet the designer will not get a job at apple though.... the fuction is deffinately more important than form in this case....

Mines the one without the unsightly bulge !!!

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Go

Nifty.

But I wonder how many numpty calls to customer services/tech support will be spawned as a result of the power cord having "some weird foreign plug on it"?

Cynical. Moi?

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Gimme!

What an excellent idea! Provided that this new plug is robustly built, I will definitely buy a few. Brilliant!

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Nice.

I thought it looked good when you showed the prototype. It looks even better now it's in production.

We get used to seeing something commen as being how it has always been and always will be. The genius here is in being able to see beyond that and create a completely new design that meets all the old requirements while being better than the original.

Well done that man.

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Flame

13A?

I'm sceptical as to whether or not that thing would either pass safety approvals or handle 13 Amperes.

Flames, well because I think it would be a fire starter!

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He also wins....

... the Grubbiest Double Socket Award

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I want one now!

The post is required, and must contain letters.

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Anonymous Coward

That is such a nice workaround to safety numpties

But since the earth pin isn't needed for unearthed devices, and since those devices are usually shipped in Europe with a small 2 pin plus. A simple flat peg two pin plug and a plastic key to open the shutter are all that's really needed. No special need for a rotating thing.

So if the safety numpties block this, you may aswell sell the two pin thing in Europe for Brits to take home with them.

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Amateur

You obviously haven't experimented with UK mains sockets much.

If you use a screwdriver (or similar device) to poke in the earth socket and release the shutter, you can then just plug a schuko (euro) plug straight in - the spacing matches up and the pin height it very similar.

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FAIL

Way to go

Encouraging people to defeat built-in safety features. I thought El Reg had a more intelligent readership than that.

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Easy solution

You don't need a special safety key. Those wooden stirrers from Starbucks (other overpriced coffee shops are available) work perfectly! My German (former) colleagues use them all the time.b

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Joke

strangely enough

most people haven't experimented with sticking screwdrivers in UK mains sockets.

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When can I buy it!

Seriously. This needs to get to market pronto. They will make an absolute fortune from it.

Coat becaause I am itching to buy one!

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Oh. My. Gawd/ess.

You lot are still using those clunky, archaic things for mains power?

George VI is DEAD! Do grow up and join the 21st century, there's a good country.

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Boffin

Eh?

Are you speaking from under a bridge? I hope so.

Considering the sub-standard designs the rest of the world has come up with, I'm glad ours is functional and safe, and not something my (nonexistent) 3 year old can stick a teaspoon into and instantly fry themselves.

Christ, Europe had to "ban" banana plugs because they fit perfectly into their crappy non-shuttered, non-switched socket designs.

Oh, and it's not just the UK that uses BS1363. If we're to "be a good country" then you'd better get on with asking Ireland, Sri Lanka, Bahrain, UAE, Qatar, Yemen, Oman, Jordan, Cyprus, Malta, Gibraltar, Botswana, Ghana, Hong Kong, Macau, Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, Nigeria, Mauritius, Iraq, Kuwait, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, Belize, Dominica, St. Lucia, Saint Vincent & the Grenadines and Grenada to be a good country too.

PS: Good luck with Zimbabwe.

PPS: Yes I really am that sad.

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Stop

Crappy two pin sockets and crappy standards

George VI is indeed dead, but not, I gather, due to electrocution, nor being burnt to death by a short-out fire. Quaint, I know, but that is how we like things here.

And to think our high standards of consumer protection don't even require a culture of private litigation, to come to a spluttering half-fruition, as in some countries which shall remain nameless!

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@blackworx

"Are you speaking from under a bridge? I hope so."

No. I'm not trolling. Not this time (yes, I do occasionally (OK, maybe more than occasionally ...) ... it appeals to my Yank/Brit/Finn derived sense of humo(u)r ... so shoot me ;-)

"Considering the sub-standard designs the rest of the world has come up with, I'm glad ours is functional and safe, and not something my (nonexistent) 3 year old can stick a teaspoon into and instantly fry themselves."

What happens if your BS 1363 is plugged into the base-board-mounted socket upside down (ground-pin only)? Can you "stick a teaspoon" into the socket? There are other ways to defeat the so-called "protection", especially if you are a curious toddler ... and I guarantee that that standard 13 amp fuse isn't going to help much if little Buffy or Biff gets lucky ...

My (existing, now aging) toddler was protected from any such mishaps 25 years ago by whole-house GFI breakers in the power distribution box on the house side of the power meter. She survived childhood, and Uni. Now she's on her own ... and made installation of GFI a condition of sale when she bought her own house and started her own family.

The clunky Brit standard 13 A plug & socket is nearly a half century out of date.

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Anonymous Coward

Bullshit Mr Safety Numpty

European sockets have shutters too, and teaspoons don't fit the hole.

Europe has NOT banned banana plugs, pushing a single plug in would NOT open the shutter, and UK has no 'switch' requirement on it's sockets either.

And yes, a bunch of small countries and ex-UK colonies are the only people who use the UK plug.

Your safety problems are as imaginary as your 3 year old.

Oh and there's even a truly awesome child lock you can put on them that requires a complex rotation and insert, isn't available to the UK plugs because of the UK's poor clumsy design.

Really this man is designing to get around numpties like you. Because without you, UK sockets would support 2 pin unearthed devices just as they do in Europe without the plastic pin. The shutters could open on balanced pressure just like the Euro sockets do and the plastic sleeve long ago made the big plastic plate irrelevant.

Your plug has evolved but only to satisfied safety numpties, not users. And I expect those safety numpties to try to kill this plug too.

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No bullshit

@ Anonymous Coward

I have teaspoons that fit the holes in Euro/Schuko sockets, and anyway it was just an example.

I should have been clearer about banana plugs... Dual banana plugs of the type used in hi-fi are prohibited in Europe because they can be inserted into Euro plugs. Regardless, a banana plug is just another example of something that fits perfectly.

I have seen more unshuttered euro sockets than I have seen shuttered. In fact, every time I visit mainland Europe I seem to see broken/cracked wall sockets, plugs with wires hanging out and high current devices being used where they shouldn't.

Congratulations on your wee rant though, and thanks for the name calling.

And to the folk banging on about GFI, it's not the be-all and end-all.

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@blackworx

"And to the folk banging on about GFI, it's not the be-all and end-all."

Whole-house and/or per-circuit GFI works. Even with two pin "ungrounded" plugs. And cracked/broken Georgian Bakelite sockets. Or knob and tube, for that matter. Regardless of current/voltage. Always. End of discussion. I'm sorry if that gets in the way of your understanding of reality, but it is the truth nonetheless.

HTH, HAND.

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