6 January 2011

The 3-Pin Plug

UK 3 Pin Plug
Now I know I write some boring blog postings and some of you are quite quick to tell me they're boring but even I have to admit, that for the normal non-geek person, this one really is boring but as it's my blog, I'm including it. So there!

Sometimes, just sometimes, an invention comes along and you look at it and think why it was never invented before. It’s so simple that it’s beyond comprehension why nobody took the base product and refined or changed it for the better.
Yup – I’m talking about the good old UK 3-pin plug,  a device which has hardly changed since 1946 when it was first introduced.

Icon, the design magazine, recently covered The Royal College of Art's graduate show, and this year, the show-stopper was a plug – the humble old 3-pin plug! Min-Kyu Choi impressed with his neat re-design of the plug which 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 in sixty years? Choi picked an everyday product that most other designers find too mundane to dabble with and drastically improved it. Good on him – I hope he makes a million.

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