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Microsoft Patents Power Technology

MS Design Lets You Put Batteries In Any Way You Want 453

Posted by timothy
from the dis-orientation dept.
jangel writes "While its strategy for mobile devices might be a mess, Microsoft has announced something we'll all benefit from. The company's patented design for battery contacts will allow users of portable devices — digital cameras, flashlights, remote controls, toys, you name it — to insert their batteries in any direction. Compatible with AA and AAA cells, among others, the 'InstaLoad' technology does not require special electronics or circuitry, the company claims."
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MS Design Lets You Put Batteries In Any Way You Want

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  • by sammyF70 (1154563) on Friday July 02, 2010 @07:21AM (#32770978) Homepage Journal

    I did the unthinkable and read TFA. They are not trying to patent the diode, they came up with a completely stupidly simple *mechanical* system which really allows to put the batteries in any direction you want without checking the polarity. it's one of the "so simple anybody could have thought of it" patents, and I must confess that I am actually impressed by its simplicity.

    For once I must say "well done, Microsoft" (sadly I'm not really anticipating repeating that sentence all too often)

  • Re:Dodge this (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Thrawn7 (1047716) on Friday July 02, 2010 @07:34AM (#32771102)
    Heh.. my Microsoft wireless keyboard takes in batteries in physical series.. Guess they'd have to rework that one
  • by aliquis (678370) <dospam@gmail.com> on Friday July 02, 2010 @07:35AM (#32771106) Homepage

    Well when reading the news item as in "no electronics needed" how many people on Slashdot came up with the same idea in their head before reading the article? It's rather obvious how it could be done but yeah, many patentable things are. I just think it's sad people can patent such crap/simple stuff. Especially since many others could come up with a very similar product from just wanting to solve the same problem, and the patent would most likely cover that solution to.

    I assume there's a reason it's not used already. Such as: It's not that hard to put the battery in correctly in the first place and maybe the connectors worn out faster / get bent more easily / touches by accident/moist/..

  • Re:One problem tho.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SimonInOz (579741) on Friday July 02, 2010 @08:11AM (#32771422)

    So we have a slightly more expensive, rather fragile-looking, patented way to make it possible for people to put batteries in the wrong way.

    Ok, so this might - possibly - be used in some devices. Probably expensive ones. And they'll have big signs saying "Put the battery in any way" and this will go well until a) the battery gets a bit of corrosion and they try to clean the contacts, at which point they will short things out and the device will melt, or b) they use another device where they put the batteries in the wrong way - and the device won't work.

    So we now have a situation where you have to examine a battery connection in every device even more closely to see which way the battery goes. It might be + or a - or either will do.

    Actually, I don't think this is an improvement.
    It LOOKS like an improvement - but it's not. It add a further level of complexity.

    So Microsoft have taken a standard system that has existed for a very long time, and modified it to make it a) fragile, b) patentable, and c) more expensive (more contacts, more wiring), not to mention d) less reliable (and battery contacts are already unreliable - oh for the days of PP9s - now THOSE were good properly gendered contacts).

    Great.
    I don't want one. I can tell a spring from a contact. It's not too hard even with my eyesight. But a funny hermaphrodite thing as a third option? Now that's confusing. (Anyone remember those weird hermaphrodite connection used by IBM token ring? No? - I thought not).

  • by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Friday July 02, 2010 @08:56AM (#32771852)
    You might think so. But I have seen, recently, a smoke alarm where the battery orientation message was about 4pt and needed a magnifier to read it; another device where the orientation message was on the side of the battery compartment and could not be read when the first cell (of 3) had been inserted; and another where the contacts were reversed (i.e. you actually had to put the battery in in what appeared to be the wrong way round. The truth is that many manufacturers simply cannot be bothered to do the job properly. On the other hand, my Logitech mouse is so designed that you can only put them in the right way round (there is a guard on the positive pole that prevents the negative end from making contact, if the cell is reversed.)

    The truth is, it would be cheaper for most manufacturers just to spend a little bit more on tooling and do a decent job, and it would then not be necessary to have a relatively complicated bit of metal, 4 times. This is a BMW solution to a Ford problem.

  • Re:One problem tho.. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by NewWorldDan (899800) <dan@gen-tracker.com> on Friday July 02, 2010 @11:03AM (#32773524) Homepage Journal

    I'm here to tell you, I think this is a good idea. I like the design. See, my wife is generally quite smart. She's got BAs in chemsitry and biology and a MS in forensic science and she still can't put batteries in the WiiMote correctly. I make electronics, and if there's any way, however improbable, to hook things up wrong, my customers will find that way. If this connection works half as well as advertised, it'll be fantastic. I'm sure MS can dig up statistics about what percentage of their tech support calls are from people who put the batteries in backwards. And I'd bet that that number is high enough that someone sat down and said, "we need to find a better way of dealing with batteries".

  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Friday July 02, 2010 @11:54AM (#32774326) Journal

    I think the solution I came up with when I read the summary is mechanically simpler, so I wonder if I can get a patent too...

    Actually, the first thing I thought of was Jef Raskin's cable connector. It's a real shame that horrible designs like the USB connector(s) were adopted instead.

  • by PatPending (953482) on Friday July 02, 2010 @01:24PM (#32776098)
    'LATFPITFA' is certainly unique: Google returns one search result for it! Congratulations!

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