Friday, 14 August 2009

Challenging the conventional design

Just occasionally someone designs something that causes everyone else to ask "Why didn't I think of that?" - or even "Why hasn't someone thought of that before now?". This was very much my reaction when I first saw a design concept by Min-Kyu Choi of London's Royal College of Art.

The UK plug is generally considered the safest plug design in common use anywhere in the world. The use of rectangular pins, the cable exiting at the bottom (thus minimising the likelihood of the plug being yanked out by its cord), cable restraint and each plug being individually fused, are some of its key features. More recently the standard has been updated to require the phase (live) and neutral pins to have insulated bases.

However, there remain several factors about the UK plug that are sub-optimal. It is one of the largest physical plugs in the world and in particular its 3d footprint is big making it bulky and difficult to accommodate in product packaging. For anyone who has ever stood on its prongs with bare feet at 3am will contest, leaving them lying around the floor is not wise. And for anyone responsible for the forest of wiring behind their TV, UK trailing sockets are also space-consuming beasts. Mr Min-Kyu appears to have succeeded where so many before him have failed - to improve the UK plug while keeping all of its safety features and addressing the three issues I listed above. perhaps that is why people are calling him a genius.

Min-Kyu Choi's plug design - ideal for portable equipment

The design has been submitted as an entry for the James Dyson Award. Hopefully an enterprising company (maybe Choc Box?) will pick this up and turn it into a commercial product - how long before we see it and Choi on Dragon's Den?

What do you think of the design? Have you come across an innovative design concept worthy of mention? Let us know in the comments.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Richard, thanks for highlighting this invention. I think you are right - it should be a great success and I hope it gets produced soon!

I can imagine the Dragons would love it - as long as the retail price was right.

Diarmuid MacDonald