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.