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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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Paris Hilton

End of discussion?

If you say so

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Anonymous Coward

Brilliant!

It might even convert the ones who push the wires into the socket with matchsticks! Though the only guy I ever actually _saw_ doing that, topped himself, which was probably the better solution. A real shame he didn't make the Darwins though!

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But the pins still poke out.

Slim plug may not actually be quite as slim but the pins end up being recessed so nothing poking out to damage bags/feet etc. Personally I would rate it far better than this design. Also not quite as flimsy as this design and already available on the high street. Got to love a design award for a piece of engineering being handed out by an Art crowd.

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Two thoughts when I saw it on TV..

1. That looks like it'll be a bitch to wire up

2. If someone walks past it and kicks it, it looks like the handle part will break off - in fact the whole thing looks rather flimsy.

It looks pretty, but design mockups often do - I suspect the press are jumping the gun here.

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Bloody Brilliant!

That's awesome. He deserves the win. The plug is also used in some other ex-colonies, it has a big potential market.

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Damm

That is neat.

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FAIL

Plug Fail

Square Peg - Round Hole. The design was fine as it was....3 pins into 3 square holes, there is nothing more simpler. Now its complicated.....what an arse !

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WTF?

WTF?

If you find that complicated, then you're the arse.

JFHC.

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WTF?

Christ on a Crutch!!

I wouldn't want to be within 100m of THAT socket when it was switched on!!!!!!

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Pretty good

That actually looks like a useful design! Any chance we'll see it in the real world?

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Anonymous Coward

No

None at all.

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Well done...

Have to admit I was all set to say "so what - who needs another new plug?". But actually I like it - it's neat and efficient and deserves to be widely adopted.

Perhaps Mr Choi might now turn his attention to why I need a dozen similar low-voltage and/or recharging devices around my home - few of which identify which piece of kit they belong to, and all of which seem to do a similar job. Next project please?

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What John 186 said

Yes, I am dreaming of a low voltage adaptor with multiple outputs, and where each output can have its own voltage and connector.

I know you can get low voltage adaptors with switchable connectors and a voltage setting control, but it is scarcely a solution to the rather stupid problem of needing to use one high voltage power socket for every low voltage device. Maybe I just don't understand Ohm's law properly, but it seems like this should be technically possible.

I seem to remember (from my rock band days) that guitar effects pedals (from certain manufacturers) could be chained together so that you only had to plug one of them into the wall.

Maybe I was just stimulating my imagination too much back then, but I know we also had an open standard for digital music around 1983, which - extraordinarily - everyone agreed upon and still uses. Sometimes musicians have nifty ideas decades before the rest of the tech community has even realised which end its arse is pointing.

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OK, I wasn't dreaming

The 'Voodoo Lab Pedal Power 2 Plus '

<http://www.voodoolab.com/pedalpower_2.htm>

...is designed for guitar effects pedals (so it has a low hum circuit design), but could be used for any low-power devices, which run on voltages which are a multiple of 9. (You can combine two outputs for 18v, etc.) Brilliant!

Expensive, though.

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I want one!

No longer will my overseas colleagues mock my power cable! I'll be able to diss their crappy non-folding cables, or cables without earth wires.

Get it in the shops (or on eBay) as soon as possible.

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Anonymous Coward

Never going to happen

Exactly how would you wire one of these plugs on to an existing appliance?

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Happy

And it deserves to have won

A brilliant idea, I hope it was patented before the college / Google or whoever else tries to steal the rights to it could get their lawyers on the case.

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Happy

Still a nice idea

But the question is of course, has it been bought up with a view to producing it. (In the UK would be nice)

And second question

And when is it coming to market?

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Nice plug for laptop

I'd like to see the rest of his house, if his wall sockets look like that!

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Coat

Why?

I lived in the UK for a long time and could never understand the need for the mega-beefy, over-engineered 13amp plug — 240v not withstanding.

Then one day it came to me. During WW2 the Brits were really short of metal to build things like ships and tanks so asked people to send in scrap metal, pots, pans and so forth for the war effort.

My theory is that the UK government designed the 13amp plug to be a cache of horded metal in the event the need arises again. Then they’ll tell all households to send in their plugs — maybe keeping just one to boil the kettle for tea.

That’s my theory anyway and I’ve never heard a better one. ;)

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Joke

Yeah, cos...

...brass is so handy for making tanks!

Also - mega beefy and over-engineered because in a fault situation UK ring main circuits can feasibly deliver 30A to just one socket, hence the need for a big chunk of sturdy insulation and room for a fuse (which IIRC is unique to our system).

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That's one skanky socket

You wouldn't get me plugging owt into that! I take it, its in an artists studio or just a really filthy house?

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Fecking Schtudent

He's a student. All student houses look like that.

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The British Standards Institution...

...will never approve this design.

Sorry, it's very clever but unsafe for mains electricity.

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Why?

Care to elaborate on why it's unsafe? Or are you just jumping to massive conclusions because the plastic looks a little bit thin in places?

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re: Why?

Let's start with - It's a device for conducting mains rated voltages/currents and it has moving parts.

Moving parts wear out.

Mains voltage/current kills.

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Sockets

The plug is fantastic - can't wait to start seeing them in Maplin. But that socket is a nightmare! Hope that's not Vulture Central, or you've got a health & safety issue just looking for a lawyer!

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longevity?

Great design - hopefully, robustness also designed into those hinges. I personally like the fully mouled plugs we use in Aus. What could possibly go wrong with an old and brittle folding plastic plug and 240v ?

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Grenade

Fail !

It doesn't solve the main bugbear of any plug , the cord that it is attached to is always 1-3 inches too short for optimal placement.

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Anonymous Coward

I do wonder

..if the designer has made sure that the internal cable routing is such that if the cable were torn out (by some clumsy git tripping over it, and the strain relief failing due to Rays, for example), whether it would tear out in the correct order, with the live coming out, then the neutral, then the earth (if any)?

..this is one of the current more subtle characteristics of the UK plug..

Yes, I'm getting it now, it's the one with the spiral bound notebook and flash of weak lemon drink in the pocket..

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Nice to see

It's nice to see someone who actually knows how to wire a plug, rather than thinks that it's just a case of matching up the cables.

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Happy

You have an awesome pair

of wall sockets - took my eye more effectively than the plug thing

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@Jake

It's not just a case of changing the plugs. The reason they are so clunky is that they need to be individually fused...as UK homes normally use a "ring main" electrical supply setup. The main breaker is set to the maximum current for the ring (so this be could be > 30A ).

It all goes back to the UK being blown to s*#t in WWII...and not having much copper for wiring in the rebuild.

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@Cheese

"It's not just a case of changing the plugs."

I know. But sometimes I think the plugs are being used as an excuse to continue allowing archaic wiring standards ...

"The reason they are so clunky is that they need to be individually fused..."

That word "need", I don't think it means what you think it means ... I have seen plugs with built-in fuses that are the same size as my standard plugs (Xmas tree lights come to mind).

"as UK homes normally use a "ring main" electrical supply setup."

Never heard of GFI circuit breakers? Hell, my wife has a GFI protected hairdryer[1], with the GFI circuitry mounted in the plug. It's less than a third the size of the 13 A Brit standard.

"The main breaker is set to the maximum current for the ring (so this be could be > 30A )."

Bad wiring practices are bad wiring practices. And less than a tenth of an amp can kill you, without blowing the fuse.

"It all goes back to the UK being blown to s*#t in WWII...and not having much copper for wiring in the rebuild."

Stop living in the fucking past! Jesus H. Christ on a pogo stick, but you lot do tend to wear the war(s) on your sleeve, don't you? That was over two thirds of a century ago, and I'll bet nobody[2] reading this participated in, or even remembers it! ... George VI is STILL dead. As I said, grow up, join the 21st century, there's a good country.

[1] It's her "traveling" hairdryer; some of the places we visit when looking for horses have what I would consider dodgy wiring ...

[2] Statistically speaking, of course.

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Archaic?

Ring main is not archaic. It's a neat solution to a problem that turned out to be a good idea in its own right. If anything's archaic it's individually-wired sockets a la rest of world. And before you get back on your high horse I'm not equating archaic with bad like you are. I take my hat off to the BS technical panel who sat down and came up with BS1363 back in the 40's - which isn't actually all that long ago compared to some.

"Stop living in the fucking past! Jesus H. Christ on a pogo stick, but you lot do tend to wear the war(s) on your sleeve, don't you?"

Christ you weren't joking when you said you did occasionally indulge in trolling then, were you?

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@blackworx

"It's a neat solution to a problem that turned out to be a good idea in its own right."

No, it's not a good idea. It's a fucking abomination of electrical design. Think I'm wrong? Ask yourself this ... which countries use ring circuits in household wiring?

Again, I'm not trolling (this time). Just trying to knock some sense into some rather thick heads. I'm probably tilting at windmills again ...

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"No, it's not a good idea."

Again - if you say so, it must be true.

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@AC 20:48

Why, never saw that coming - yet another "why not ditch your wiring friendly and safe plug and use our terrible (relatively) dangerous crap plug instead" post. Yes, our 13A plug has a few faults (small size isn't one of it's plus points), but it has a lot going for it. We only need one or two circuits in the distribution board for an average house and everything is correctly fused for the cable connected.

Switch to unfused plugs and you then have a messy radial wiring system (something we ditched back in the 1940's when the 13A plug was introduced) AND incorrectly fused cables. Mind you, there is one obvious retort to "why not use our continental plugs ... and that is "which one ?" A French one, a German one, one or more of the Italian ones, ....

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Ah yes, of course - safety with 1930's technology

Such a huge consideration nowadays. How the swedish/dutch/germans/etc. must be cursing the hideous annual death toll exacted by their domestic wiring which has been using circuit breakers etc. for the last thirty years. Except they don't, because it all works just fine.

Nowadays the advantages of the 3-pin plug really are theoretical more than practical - given the number of UK homes which still use rubbish old fuse boards (complete with wrong gauge wire, nails etc. carrying current) I think we are on average far less safe than most of the two-pinners in Northern Europe.

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@Simon Hobson - Actually it IS fused

I remember the issue of no fuse was brought up on the original article and I recalled that there was one. Reading the original article it reads:

'there’s a finger slot for pulling the plug out of the socket once you’re done. This section also contains the plug’s fuse – shown in red in the video.'

So yes there IS a fuse still, it's jus been cleverly hidden in its design.

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Joke

Plug-Off in 3.... 2..... 1. Go!

http://crave.cnet.co.uk/gadgets/0,39029552,49303764-1,00.htm

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You know it's a good idea when..

you look at and think "Bloody hell, that's just so obvious. Why didn't I think of it first?"

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OK, but will they last?

I assume these plugs are not rewirable. That's not a problem, but you don't say how the live and neutral pins are connected. This must either be by flexible wiring or more likely by contacts within the plug - presumably in the central part because the sides fold flat. This means that the current handling capacity is limited and there is potential for arcing due to wear or the ingress of dirt.

One improvement to the design would be to provide a cover for the pins when in transit.

The ring main system is fine where you have a lot of low powered devices such as with computers and entertainment equipment. High powered devices such as room heaters and kettles would be better served by separate circuits. However we now have so many wall warts that it would make sense to have houses wired with permanent low voltage circuits.

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Plug can be used folded up

As his multi-plug design demonstrates:

http://www.phtaipei.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/choi_uk_folding_plug05.jpg

I like that, a nice space-saver.

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I agree, don't hold your breath

I think you'll wait a long time for this to be legal to use or to sell, except maybe as a novelty shelf ornament.

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I wish....

Wouldnt it be great if the UK plug could be changed so that it looked like the folded flat version, with all the pins in line? Of course, it'll never happen...

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