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Microsoft Patents Power Technology

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

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 twisting_department ( 1329331 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @07:12AM (#32770884)
    Not Prior Art if it uses electronics, diodes etc. This is purely mechanical. I think it's the most brilliant thing Microsoft has ever come up with. Patent worthy? Quite possibly in my mind.
  • An actual patent (Score:5, Insightful)

    by White Flame ( 1074973 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @07:16AM (#32770930)

    For once, we're hearing about an authentically clever, afaik new physical design which solves a real problem and is actually sanely applicable to be patented. I wasn't expecting that when I clicked on this story. Gotta hand it to Microsoft for this one.

  • by twisting_department ( 1329331 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @07:26AM (#32771032)
    I have to say it again. This is the most brilliant invention Microsoft has ever come up with. It fixes an every day niggle that every one has just accepted for decades. It's dead obvious but no one thought of it before (I assume so far). Perfect candidate for a patent. And for all those who don't read articles: No it does not uses diodes, it's purely mechanical therefore does not drop any battery voltage or waste power like a bridge would. It's probably as cheap to make as regular battery contacts. Just hope it is as reliable as normal contacts. Brilliant I say. Well done Microsoft. I always thought you had some innovation in you somewhere.
  • Re:Dodge this (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jamesh ( 87723 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @07:30AM (#32771066)

    Let's say it use 2 batteries and the user place them like this

    [- +}{+ -]

    Well... doesn't look like it's going to work...

    Just when Microsoft thought they'd built the ultimate idiot proof device, nature comes along with a better idiot.

    To be fair though, those sort of devices are less common, and it's easier to spot when you've got it wrong (two batteries nose to nose or tail to tail is more obviously wrong than a single battery in backwards).

  • Re:So... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jamesh ( 87723 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @07:31AM (#32771074)

    Microsoft has invented the diode? Thank goodness for that, I don't think electronics could progress any further without it.

    If you insist on thinking of it as a diode, then it's a diode with a voltage drop of 0, which is pretty impressive!

  • by Animaether ( 411575 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @07:33AM (#32771088) Journal

    it's one of the "so simple anybody could have thought of it" patents

    I remember *some* devices that, instead of the cheap flat plate (positive contact) and spring (negative contact) configuration, had the housing built in such a manner that for the negative plate (which was semi-springy) it was full width, while for the positive plate it was shielded by the housing to just slightly over the width of the protruding positive contact of the AA/AAA battery.

    That way, the battery could only be inserted one way. It solves the same big problem of inserting batteries the wrong way around and either the device not working, or worse.

    It doesn't solve the "I wish I could put the battery either which way around so I don't have to use my square-peg-in-round-hole 18-month-old brain" problem, though - and it's still a fairly clever design. Now to see how well it holds up in mass production where tolerances of fitting such things in the housings are often seen as +-2mm and everything moves, twists and turns.

  • by tius ( 455341 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @07:38AM (#32771118)

    "solves a real problem ..." I wouldn't have gone out of my way to call this a real problem. I can see it as a risk mitigator in medical devices and emergency equipment, but beyond that it just adds to the noise that dumbs down the public.

  • One problem tho.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Creator ( 4611 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @07:42AM (#32771140) Homepage Journal

    Users will be looking at these abiguos contacs and not be able to figure out which way to insert their batteries.

    (No it doesn't help that any way will do if the user doesn't know it.)

  • by maxume ( 22995 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @07:43AM (#32771144)

    If you have major trouble on XP, you bought a shit computer. That's hardly something you should blame Microsoft for.

  • by ragefan ( 267937 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @07:43AM (#32771152)

    They even made a logo for it.

    So instead of just paying attention to whether the batteries are in correctly, they'll have to first pay attention to whether the device matters which way that batteries go.

  • Do You Think... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pandrijeczko ( 588093 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @07:44AM (#32771174)

    ...that someone who is too stupid to put a battery in the correct way round probably shouldn't be using an electronic device in the first place?

  • by Xest ( 935314 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @07:47AM (#32771206)

    Yes, but unfortunately Slashdot has still mostly jumped on it as an opportunity to slag off Microsoft.

    Sure this may not be ground breaking, but if Microsoft can take it mainstream then why slag them off for it? as simple as it may be, the fact remains that no one else has bothered to take it mainstream yet.

    It's not just about the ingenuity or difficulty of inventing a device, but in taking it to the greater market, there's no point inventing the most complex amazing thing ever if no one actually ever gets chance to make use of it. So this is where the real test is- whether Microsoft manage to take it mainstream and hence whether we all do get to benefit from it in the long run.

  • Re:Do You Think... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by justleavealonemmmkay ( 1207142 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @07:57AM (#32771282)

    You are stupid one here. Why assume dumbproofness when you can just think of it as the fulfillment of an incomplete design ? I can think of multiple situations where quickly swapping batteries without looking would be awesome.

  • by maxume ( 22995 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @08:02AM (#32771336)

    Dude, they employ thousands of the smartest CS people in the United States. That might not translate into products you like, but fucking try to acknowledge a little reality through the smell of your own farts.

  • by nospam007 ( 722110 ) * on Friday July 02, 2010 @08:12AM (#32771446)

    Perhaps Apple should patent their 'batteries not changeable by yourself because you are morons' system too.

  • by XxtraLarGe ( 551297 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @08:14AM (#32771456) Journal

    ".... something MICROSOFT will benefit from. The company's patented design ..."

    Just because somebody wins doesn't mean somebody else has to lose. If I want to quickly swap out the rechargeable batteries in my camera so I can take a few more shots, then I win also. I may pay a little more for the privilege, but if it's worth it to me, I've lost nothing.

  • by NekSnappa ( 803141 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @08:18AM (#32771504)
    I don't see this a solving as "real problem" either. But you lost me on that "dumbing down the public" bit.

    I mean really. If you want to go there I'm sure that there are plenty of people competently doing tasks using modern computers that they wouldn't be able to do if all they had was an abacus. So is that dumbing down the public as well?
  • Some just put out + and -, some others have a picture of the battery but molded into the plastic where it's not easy to see, some better have paper strips or something such.

    But as said I just think people have accepted it and not starting thinking about / looking for a solution, as with many other popular simple items in your daily life. For instance atleast here in Sweden we've got those plastic scrapes to pick up the crap from the dish sink, and before someone invented that simple plastic scrape with holes in it people used their hands or a piece of household paper. Very simple and very comfortable vs using your hands or waste a lot of paper, but before doing that seemed like the obvious and normal things to do and most likely people didn't thought about it much ..

    Now Microsoft had added the insulator part which atleast make it more reliable, if one had only cut two pieces of metallic then I assume it would had been easier for them to screw up than with a piece of insulator in between. Without the insulator / as a more simply and less refined design I assume it may have lost quite a bit in reliability for especially smaller batteries such as R03/AAA.

  • by rwa2 ( 4391 ) * on Friday July 02, 2010 @08:34AM (#32771636) Homepage Journal

    Say what you will about MS software, but I've only heard good things about MS hardware - mice and keyboards and all that.

    Doesn't keep me from wanting to file off the MS logo on my gear, but whatever.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 02, 2010 @08:37AM (#32771672)

    The only advantage of these new contacts over that style is that they allow things to work both ways round.

    Which, being their goal, I would say is a success...

    Your statement amounts to: All this new Porsche does is give a smoother faster ride than the old one...

  • by Zemplar ( 764598 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @08:47AM (#32771762) Journal

    Thats one of lifes great problems solved. Any chance they can work on Windows stability next?


    What, are you kidding? They want a solvable problem to work on!

  • Re:Do You Think... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Max Romantschuk ( 132276 ) <> on Friday July 02, 2010 @08:52AM (#32771816) Homepage

    So when I'm outside at night I'm stupid because I can't read the polarity "written" by embossing the black plastic my device is made of?

  • by derGoldstein ( 1494129 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @09:20AM (#32772108) Homepage
    Well, for the sake of argument:
    The '+' and '-' symbols on batteries makes children ask about what they are. Before that, all they know is that it's something that "makes things go". When they get even the simplest explanation of polarity, they may get curious and want to learn more. Otherwise, batteries are just a black box that contains a mechanism you can't see and may not think to ask about. It encourages asking questions, because the adult will have to at least explain to the child that if it's inserted the wrong way, bad things can happen. Probably the most common question from a child (well, most kids) is in the form of "why is _something_ the way it is?". Just having a bit of additional information on this otherwise tightly-sealed "thing" draws questions. Remove that and the need to ask the question goes away.

    So, technically, this does have the potential of causing some "dumbing down". But then, solving all sorts of problems leads down this path.
  • by node_chomsky ( 1830014 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @09:39AM (#32772318)

    Note: if a question actually has multiple possible answers, it's not rhetorical.

    If a question is meant to illustrate a point or accomplish rhetorical goals, the question is Rhetorical. []

    The number of possible answers to a question has absolutely nothing to do with how rhetorical it is. Rhetorical questions are often asked in a way that doesn't expect an answer, but that quality of a question is distinctive from it rhetorical value.

  • Re:Do You Think... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by stewbacca ( 1033764 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @09:53AM (#32772512)

    ...that someone who is too stupid to put a battery in the correct way round probably shouldn't be using an electronic device in the first place?

    There needs to be an equivalent "Godwin Law" for the slashdot mentality to blame the user for being stupid.

    It would be something like, "You are only authorized to operate a computer if you are deemed smart enough by a slashdot member with a 5-digit or lower id". Because only smart people benefit from the use of computers and electronics. Got it.

  • by Quirkz ( 1206400 ) <ross.quirkz@com> on Friday July 02, 2010 @01:03PM (#32775728) Homepage
    For now, yes. In a decade, when every new device has this setup, it'll be one of those things that we can simply forget about. It will be inconceivable to the next generation that we ever even had to bother paying attention to which end was which. That kind of convenience, where an annoyance can simply disappear, has a certain brilliance to it.
  • Re:Do You Think... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Tom ( 822 ) on Friday July 02, 2010 @01:04PM (#32775740) Homepage Journal

    Yes, obviously. A stupid person will try to read the embossed symbols. A smart person remembers which way the empty batteries she just removed were oriented.

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