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Microsoft InstaLoad lets you insert batteries in any direction

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July 1, 2010

Microsoft InstaLoad lets you insert batteries in any direction

Microsoft InstaLoad lets you insert batteries in any direction

For batteries to work, they need to go in the right way. It's one of those fundamental rules that we all pick up from an early age, but Microsoft has just announced an innovation that turns all that on its head – literally. Known as "InstaLoad" battery installation, the technology allows you to insert a battery without having to worry about positive and negative polarity. That's idiot-proofing of the highest order!

InstaLoad is designed to save time when using portable devices that need regular battery swaps and would have obvious benefits for (the many) poorly designed gadgets out there that require a microscope to see the polarity diagram.

Microsoft says that "unlike existing electronic solutions designed to address battery-polarity installation, InstaLoad is a mechanical invention that does not drain battery power or require expensive electronic circuitry."

The contact system is suitable for most devices that have barrel-type compartments and use CR123, AA, AAA, C or D size batteries (disposable or rechargeable).

Microsoft is licensing the patented battery contact design and Duracell is among the companies looking to make use of the technology.

Idiot-proofing cracks aside (I know I've managed to put batteries in backwards many times), there is also clear benefit here for people with hearing, vision or learning disabilities. Microsoft has recognized this and is offering a royalty-free license program to suppliers and manufacturers of accessibility devices.

“We believe the InstaLoad feature can make a difference in the lives of those people who need and use these products on a daily basis,” said Rusty Jeffress, corporate vice president, Specialized Devices & Applications, Microsoft.

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7 Comments

Surely four diodes soldered or etched onto the battery compartment terminals could already do this? Funny no-one ever thought to do it before, or if they did, to also patent it.

francis
1st July, 2010 @ 11:53 pm PDT

I think the article states it as a mechanical device - no diodes - which would take a huge amount of power to operate . my guess is that the tip of the battery is the key to identify the polarity , and no matter how you insert them - the output will stay the same polarity -

for example a spring loaded ring around each end and a hole with the positive contact in the middle - no matter how you install the battery , with the middle contacts and the rings wired together respectively - the rings will be on the negative side , the middle contacts will be positive . tadaa.

just no one ever thought about the need to make this completely simple and primitive task even simpler to let completely illiterate people operate battery powered devices .

Károly Hőss
2nd July, 2010 @ 01:38 am PDT

The use of four diodes in a battery operated device is not convenient since you will always have a voltage drop across two of them thus reducing the useful voltage (and hence life) span of the battery. That's why a mechanical device is the best solution.

vale56
2nd July, 2010 @ 08:28 am PDT

sounds like a perfect solution for the twelve o clock flashers, you know, the people who still do not know how to program their beta or vhs clock display, and struggle with that 35mm film thingy , putting that round thingy in and catching the tab on that film tab thingy, they probably have a name like "moonbeam" and could not figure how to use a commodore 64

Bill Bennett
2nd July, 2010 @ 07:13 pm PDT

If this is a modification to new devices, it'd only work if *all* the batteries were installed backwards.

To make it completely user-proof it would have to be built into the batteries and all the batteries used would have to have this.

BTW, they aren't batteries, they are cells. A battery is composed of two or more cells. AAA, AA, C and D cells.

What powers your laptop and provides the power to start your car is a battery. Multiple batteries, as used in most hybrid cars, are called a battery bank.

Facebook User
2nd July, 2010 @ 10:15 pm PDT

Actually you are all behind the times technology-wise. It is possible to use 4 small mosfets and some drive electronics to switch the polarity of each cell or battery (e.g. PP3 9v) to connect the correct polarity to the load. Such a device would lose very little power or volts drop as the currents are relatively low, and could be built entirely in Integrated circuit form at a cost of a few pence/cents.

Maybe that's what they have done.

Facebook User
3rd July, 2010 @ 10:40 am PDT

Microsoft doing something sensible? Oh - wait a sec...

Patent.

So basically - Microsoft has robbed the world of the opportunity to provide help to disabled people - unless you first want to pay Microsoft to license the idea.

That makes more sense.

christopher
4th July, 2010 @ 07:27 pm PDT
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