back to article Microsoft goes AC/DC with Instaload battery tech

Microsoft bigged up a technology yesterday that simplifies the battery installation process by forgoing the need to lopsidedly peer at the plus and negative signs on the energy gizmo. InstaLoad is a patented battery contact design that Microsoft has made available for licence by third party device suppliers. The software giant …

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  1. Michael 28
    Coat

    Microsoft know their target market!

    (...idiocracy). 'nuff said.. it's friday.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Duh...

    Anyone who can't figure out which way round to insert a battery shouldn't have bought anything that needs them in the first place.

    1. thesykes
      Thumb Down

      Re: Duh....

      Never heard of small human beings, called children? Younger kids know batteries go in toys, but, don't have the knowledge of the polarity of the 4 AA's that just fell out of their favourite toys' battery compartment. Cue crying because it's broken...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @thesykes

        Ooh, a think of the children comment. Children also swallow batteries so why don't we make then too big to fit in their mouths.

      2. Allan George Dyer Silver badge
        Coat

        It's called...

        a learning experience.

        It also works on several levels:

        1. How do I make it work? It only works with the cells in "right"

        2. Why does it work? Electricity, positive, negative, electrons... stuff

        3. Where are we going with this? There's lots of things in life where understanding is important to success.

        Acknowledgement: Douglas Adams. Forget the coat, where's my towel.

      3. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Err...

      The blind or partially sighted?

      Those with arthritis who can't manipulate fiddly little batteries easily?

  3. King Dave
    WTF?

    Really?

    Was this really a problem that needed solving?

  4. JRallo
    FAIL

    Put some diodes in and bam!

    You have a design that takes a battery in any direction.

    Fail, because this has been done lots of times before.

    1. Hayden Clark Silver badge
      Boffin

      Diode drop

      == energy wastage. Especially in one-cell and two-cell designs.

      As a typical low-Vf diode drops 0.2V, the wastage for a 2-cell device is 14%.

      1. nobby

        thank you

        that explains that then.

        knew we couldn't have been that clever

    2. Tom 35 Silver badge

      Only works with one battery

      If you have two cells and only one is backwards a diode will not help.

      For that mater I don't see how the MS tech will work with anything that stacks two or more cells in series. If they are all backwards yes, but if only one is backwards?

      1. I didn't do IT.
        Pirate

        Re: Diodes & Efficiency

        So, the diodes are in the battery itself. No worries then.

        You think a battery company that WANTS you to buy more will really be concerned that the batter doesn't last as long? Really?

        What's that? Reputation? If they can sell the convenience of installation (even by children(tm)) then what would parents/guardians/nurses care? Let the botherers do it themselves. Isn't the latest rage (hehehe) in customer service not "Self Service"?

    3. OffBeatMammal

      references?

      where? who?

      (assuming if there's a patent that there was no prior art to dispute...)

  5. LinkOfHyrule
    Paris Hilton

    The Nipple technique

    When I insert batteries in a dimly lit place I use the nipple technique - simply feel which end has the nipply thingy on it and then in the battery receptacle, feel which end has the springy thingy. No need for some crap Microsoft invention here, not with the nipple technique!

    1. Chris Pearson

      title goes here

      But in said dark room how do you tell what way round the device expects them if they both use springs like, for example, my daughters camera. Putting batteries in that right is hard enough when I can see the very cunningly hidden polarity symbols.

      1. LinkOfHyrule
        Happy

        I've had that once

        I had that happen once on a cable box remote - the answer - turn the living room lights on and some good old trial and error!

        The nipple technique rarely lets me down I can tell you!

  6. dogged
    Thumb Up

    MS Hardware

    is normally pretty good, too.

    And this seems like a perfectly valid invention, especially for XBox remote controls.

  7. Sureo
    Thumb Up

    Good idea

    This is the same kind of idea as cutting a key on both sides so you don't have to care about which way you stick it in. Its cheap and makes life that tiny bit easier.

  8. nobby
    WTF?

    isn't this just a full-wave rectifier?

    forgive me its been a long time,

    but isn't this just four diodes?

    1. I didn't do IT.
      Boffin

      Re: Full Wave

      "Bridge" rectifier, yes. And probably self-contained in each battery, too.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Headmaster

        What's wrong with...

        ... a bit of clever plastic molding, it's probably patentable, just, but probably too expensive for mass market use.

        ps I was originally going to say that the built-in bridge rectifier might be good for rechargable batteries - but it definitely isn't.

    2. Stephen Bungay

      An old mechanical hack...

      Yes, cutting the key on both sides makes the task of inserting it into a lock foolproof. In the 1970's and 80's Ford (in North America at least) used a double sided key like this. You would be surprised at how many people think that both sides needed to be the same for the key to actuate the lock! A pal of mine had two Fords with only one set of keys, and most people were amazed to find out that this could be done. Even better, in the dark you could easily orient the key correctly for the car you were going to use simply by running your fingertip down the length of one of the cut sides, much like the "nipple technique" mentioned in another post, but this is more akin to braille.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But isn't this ....

    .... just a few diodes?

  10. My Alter Ego
    Gates Halo

    Just wait for the idiots to ...

    ... insert batteries incorrectly in series: "Instaload means I can put them in any way".

    It's actually quite a clever idea, just wait for the naysayers to say it shouldn't be patentable as it such an obvious solution. It's a simple solution, but at least it's a hardware patent rather than some business process or one-click rubbish.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge
      Gates Halo

      Series?

      Actually I reckon that's the one where it's probably going to be a big win.

      I've puzzled a few times over the "which ones go up and which go down" bit badly stamped in a miniscule pictograph on the inside of a battery cover. The ability to shove 'em in any which way is a good thing.

      That's also why it ain't "just four diodes". That method would still require you to get 'em in consistantly in one configuration or the other.

      I reckon I might know why this has come from MS though. I bought a Wireless Desktop 7000 set on FleaBay a while back dirt cheap. Obviously new, obviously opened and fairly obviously a returned product. When I installed it, the mouse didn't work. The *reason* the mouse didn't work was that the rechargeable NiMh "AAA" was in the wrong way round. The vendor had umpty-something similar units for sale and I wouldn't be at all surprised if they all had the same "fault"....

  11. Mark Broadhurst
    Gates Halo

    Simple solution

    Looks like a nice simple solution to a problem, not a major problem admittedly.

  12. Shonko Kid
    Gates Horns

    >The technology is compatible with CR123, AA, AAA, C and D batteries.

    But you can't put any of those cells in the wrong way round!?

    Or are M$ going to follow this up with a more expensive patent for battery compartments that doesn't use a spring to clamp them in place?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Eh?

      What are you talking about? Of course you can put them in the wrong way round the spring makes no difference at all.

  13. Fr. Ted Crilly
    Paris Hilton

    better mousetrap

    course makers of battery powered things could just restrict themselves to springs = - tits/studs = +

    for one the designer of eveready 2 AA battery phone chargers (grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr)could do with an ergonomics 101 swift kick in the pants.

    paris cos she knows what her tits are for.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Not diodes

    If you bother looking at the pictures at: http://www.microsoft.com/hardware/mouseandkeyboard/licensing/instaloadoverview.mspx

    You'll see it's mechanical.

    There are two seperate contacts, a wider one at the bottom for the negative connection, and a slightly recessed upper contact that the negative end of the battery will never touch. If it wasn't from Microsoft, you might almost call it an innovation...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Cool...

      That is very good, blindingly simple, my hat is off to the designer.

    2. I didn't do IT.
      Boffin

      Re: Mechanical

      Well son of a gun.

      That is pretty clever. Now, I wonder hard it is to mess it up by putting the batteries in too quickly and bending one of the tabs?

      However, if not a tab and rather a layer of metallic connector on rigid substrate, then how would the ends hold tension on the battery to hold it in place? You couldn't just have the ends the exact size of the battery - notice the mouse (from page above) has one end of the batteries concealed in the case - that means the batteries must have been inserted at an angle, with one end or the other "springy".

      Perhaps a spring on the inner side of the connector, so its not exposed? If that's not part of the patent I hereby claim first publishing rights! ;)

    3. Stephen Bungay

      Someone was thinking...

      Nice simple design using existing form-factor. I like it, but you still need to tell the kids about polarity and why it is important, you could use the design of these contacts to illustrate that it was so important that someone came up with this design.

      Kudos to the designer.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm impressed

    I have several times found myself wondering which way batteries go in, if they all go in the same way, or if half go in one way and half the other way (especially where you've got four batteries in a 2x2 matrix). Sometimes it's not easy to read the + and - signs, even with pretty good vision. I've got a few devices with custom batteries that won't insert incorrectly, but I'd never thought of hooking up a system to negate the need to put them in the right way round.

    I think this is probably one of those cat-flap moments - it's really simple and so blindingly obvious that it took a genius to invent and a thousand people to say, "I could have done that".

    Also - for reasons of efficiency, as mentioned above, I suspect it isn't just a bunch of bog standard diodes.

  16. Peter H. Coffin
    Joke

    Both contacts at the same end...

    sounds like a short path to a hot time to me... Current batteries can be tossed loose into a drawer and be generally expected to not land in a way that puts both terminals in contact with the same bit of metal. I'm not sure how these are going to manage that. (I'm sure that tossing out even a "spent" 9-volt has has started fires in trashbins more than once already...)

    1. OffBeatMammal

      no change to the battieries

      this is the holder the battery goes into, not the battery... so the contact points on the battery don't change, just recepticle.

  17. Jeremy 2
    Pirate

    Easy to use solution

    Once you've entered your 25-character Battery Product Key online, had it rejected, made a call to India, written down an even longer activation code, entered that online and finally been deemed a suitable person to use the product you handed over good money for, then yes, it's really easy to use!

    But then, of course after about 2 days, you'll take it out and put it in a second device only to be alerted that your painstakingly typed activation code is no longer valid and that your battery may not be genuine. The available voltage will drop by half a volt as a courtesy until you provide a blood sample for DNA matching to prove you're the original purchaser.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      silly man...

      .... you're confusing it with a battery for an iPhone

  18. mafoo
    Thumb Down

    Diodes

    Wow, microsoft figured out how to put diodes in a circuit. A 10 year old could figure out how to do it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      can't you read ... or at least look at the picture

      no diodes. it's a clever mechanical solution.

      http://www.microsoft.com/hardware/mouseandkeyboard/licensing/instaloadoverview.mspx

      why is it so hard for people to accept that MS sometimes come up with a good idea?! If this was from Apple it would be hailed as the second coming of portable electronics and a triumph of elegant design (even if it made your radio controlled toy car explode!)

      1. mafoo
        FAIL

        wow

        That's an even worse solution than using diodes.

      2. stucs201
        Jobs Horns

        If this was from Apple it would be hailed as the second coming

        Well first off I think Apple would have to explain the concept of a replaceable battery to their users. They'd also have to adapt it to coin cells because I can't see Apple producing anything that a D-Cell will fit in.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    Not convinced....

    It is me or is this not going to work?

    The current setup involves a spring on the negative end which ensures a good contact and allows for minor variations in the battery's length. This version doesn't (seem to) do either.

    With no play in the mechanism getting a battery in there it is going to be damned difficult and getting it out again will be an utter bastard....

    Also, rechargeables tend to have a thick plastic jacket which exends partly over the bottom of the battery, negative contacts tend to be pointy springs or plates with nippley bits, wheras this is just a flat plate.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Hmm...

      If I may be permitted a spaced quote:

      MS Guy: "Oh ah had-na fort ov dat."

  20. Mike 125

    holy sh't - Msoft innovates!

    This is a first - (if, indeed, it proves to be their idea) - a genuine innovation, clever and elegant. How uniquely un-Msoft. Oh the irony - that it's pure hardware!! Poor old Mhard.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    well

    you're still going to have loads of devices without this "instaload" doohicky, especially as it's patented. So you're still going to have to put your batteries in the right way anyway, unless you want to go to the additional trouble of remembering which devices don't care about battery configuration and deliberately putting the batteries in some weird configuration just to get your monies worth.

    1. CountZero

      The Logo Is The Answer

      Officially licensed InstaLoad products will sport the InstaLoad Logo!

  22. Christian Berger Silver badge

    Adding this to a product tells the customer...

    ...that you think he's an idiot unable to put in batteries in the right way and you even spend probably considerable amounts of money on telling him.

  23. Puppeteer
    Flame

    Almost a brilliant idea

    It is a great idea, but in the way it is shown it requires much tighter tolerances than batteries are made to.

    There is a reason why most battery holders have a spring on one end that allows for several percent variation in battery length.

    It will also be hard to prove that it will not short circuit any type of battery.

    Of course there are ways around both these problems, but either the mechanics will become fiddly or it will only work with some battery brands.

    There surely has to be prior art though.

  24. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Not new

    I've seen a battery holder very (many years ago) for the then designated U2 battery that was able to do this.

    The contacts were a forked spring that hit the negative of the cell either site of a recessed positive stud.

    The item in question was a 1 valve signal tracer thingy.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Microsoft cannot be serious

    How can you patent steering diodes. And I have such a device for charging my Camera Battery. There must be prior art out there. Yet again a demonstration of the defective nature of the US patent system. And here's a link that took less than a minute to find ..

    "Charger automatically detects positive/negative polarity which eliminates the risk of shorting the battery for safe and simple operation"

    http://www.daydeal.com/product.php?productid=12025&cat=3099

  26. Robert Forsyth

    Many battery compartments have a recessed positive terminal

    although it doesn't allow you to insert either way round, it does stop damage of reverse supply

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Go

    Battery bother

    Hmm..

    What about just using a magtrix style connector with preset polarity- if its wrong then the field will "feel" incorrect so it is pretty obvious which way the battery goes.

    Plug it in the right way round and it "locks" in place with a solid click.

    the added advantage is that the connectors are then not subject to the usual "flaky spring" problems plaguing normal batteries, and yet they are also backwards compatible.

    AC-DC

  28. Andrew Bell
    FAIL

    Oh wow

    Microsoft have invented the bridge rectifier! Who would have ever thought you could have put one on each pair of battery contacts and joined them up in series? Certainly not I! I wonder how much they're going to license it for...

  29. mky

    This wont work in a multi-cell flashlight

    unless the tech is in the battery. Individually slotted batteries, where the cells are actually separated it would work, as it would not matter whether the batteries are in series, parallel or series parallel. This seems like a solution to a rather limited problem. Hardly world changing.

    1. stucs201
      FAIL

      And the irony is...

      ...this is supposedly useful for applications where batteries need changin in poor light. A multi-cell torch does seem like one of the things most likely to need its batteries changing in such conditions.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Uhhh

    "devices that use CR123, AA, AAA, C or D size batteries" - none of which are batteries

  31. Reg Sim
    Thumb Up

    It is so simple...but

    but I suppose nobody have though of it. It will not work for every device, as any device that has batterys in a row will not benefit.

    But yes this seems like a worth while thing. Well done MS, lets just hope there not charging a gazzilion quid for the licence.

    there is the link again to look at the hardware if you missed i above (like I did)

    http://www.microsoft.com/hardware/mouseandkeyboard/licensing/instaloadoverview.mspx

  32. Ascylto
    Big Brother

    Really?

    Looks like Microsoft may be onto something here ...

    How long before they cancel it?

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