The British electrical plug may be a design classic, but it's also very bulky and doesn't exactly fit in with the ultra-mobile digital age. To save some tablets from an undeserved scratching, Hong Kong-based OneAdaptr has come up with its Flip folding plug. The focus of a Kickstarter campaign running through December 18, the Flip opens like a pair of jaws and combines USB charging ports with an optional internal battery.

Designed in the 1940s, the British mains plug was meant to put a heavy emphasis on safety while taking into account post-war copper shortages. The reason for its infamous size is due to the three bulky prongs combined with a matching wall socket. These are designed to make an accidental shock extremely difficult without a great deal of effort.

Another factor is built-In fuses to make up for a shortage of copper wiring after the Second World War (by putting the fuses as close to the appliances as possible), and a circuit designed so that tugging and fraying causes damage to the live wires before the ground wire.

It works, but it was designed for lamps and electric kettles, not tablets and smartphones. It doesn't do much good to have a wafer-thin laptop when its power cable ends in a bulky plug with three huge prongs that are perfect for scratching things up in a messenger bag, so OneAdaptr came up with an alternative.

Folding plugs aren't new, but they tend to be on the basic side and to end their careers in the back of drawers. With sizes ranging from 48 x 18 x 78 mm to 48 x 18 x 126 mm (1.9 x 0.7 x 3 in to 48 x 18 x 5 in) and an output of 5 V, the Flip is designed for digital devices as well as with compactness in mind. Folded, the Flip is a third the size of a standard British plug. This not only reduces the thickness of the unit, but also hides the tongs away, so they can't scratch anything else they happen to be rubbing up against.

In addition to its folding design, the Flip includes multiple USB charging ports. The Duo, the smallest of the line, has two ports. The next larger, the Quad, has four ports and five amps of power, and the largest, the Power, has four ports and includes an internal battery to charge devices when away from the mains.

The Flip is available via the Kickstarter campaign, with early bird prices starting at £7 (US$11) for the Duo. Delivery is estimated for next February, if all goes according to plan.

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