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Sometimes something begs for a simple solution. The nearly-ubiquitous USB port is perhaps the technological poster child for an obvious failure to work both ways (right-side-up or upside-down) despite looking perfectly symmetrical on both sides. Thankfully, and finally, this has been tackled from two directions (appropriately enough): one more idealistic, one more realistic, but both ingenious.

Ma Yi Xuan is a student designer who has solved the problem in theory, and in reality by UltraTek‘s new Flipper. These answers have been a long time coming. This author, for example, has bend more than one USB plug (and port), though fortunately only destroyed one to date.

In the student version, there is a piece on either side of the interior that slides out of the way to reveal a data connection – which half moves depends on what way the plug is placed into the accepting slot. Simple, but vital for making this work both ways.

If you have not encountered the error of normal-style USB plugs, well, it is becoming a bigger issue the more we compute on a daily basis. In short: while there are sometimes visual indicators on the exterior housing of a plug-in, a forceful failure to insert the cord in the correct way can damage the socket permanently. Having a switchable solution could save many people from painfully expensive hardware fixes and replacements.