Until electricity is entirely wireless, the question of how to deal with dense plugs will continue to nag at designers. This solution, while nifty, poses a new problem while trying to solve the old one.
There are angled, bent and flush-fitting solutions, but when you go to change configurations (like standing up from a low seat with your laptop) your cord may have other ideas.
Huang Guanglei‘s vision for this flexing plug looks perfect, but in addressing the issue of mobility it creates a problem of power. Specifically, it is designed to flip up and down not just to accommodate movement but also to turn on and off. This last tweak is neat insofar as it results in an adjustable dimmer switch for lights, but less functional for something that uses continuous power to run.
“Last week when I was doing my homework, I moved my chair and moved the plug board at he same time, only to find that the power of my computer was unplugged,” says the designer. “I lost all of my homework that I didn’t save it. So, unfortunately I had to do it again. So I designed the folding-plug. It is powered only when folded 90 degrees to fully attach the board. Then the red stripe unfolded from hidden position indicates that the power is on. When it is folded to the power on position, it could be unplugged by unintentionally touch. This can also free us from unplugging the power frequently. What’s more, when the plug is some distance away in the corner, it can be done without reaching it by creeping into a narrow alcove.”
Despite its limitations, this power-saving flat plug design is a step in a better direction for power outlets that still seem stuck in the 20th century. Somehow, we’re still dealing with plugs that stick out way too far from the wall on nearly everything that needs to remain plugged in most of the time, from electric heaters to televisions. Perhaps connected smart homes will soon eliminate the issue of dimming or turning off our lights and appliances from afar, however.