If you’ve ever spent hours with a new gadget, inserting and removing batteries until you finally get it just right, you may appreciate Microsoft’s latest invention. Instaload is a technology designed for battery compartments that includes both positive and negative contacts at both ends. Yes, we know that sounds like a recipe for a world-ending cataclysm, but somehow Microsoft manages to make to make it work with any pyrotechnics.
The idea behind Instaload is so basic, it’s a wonder it hasn’t been done before. Since the positive and negative terminals are in slightly different positions, once a battery is inserted, it’s automatically lined up with the correct terminals on both ends. Circuits connected to the contacts make sure that you haven’t wedged the battery into the compartment in some unholy manner, and the juice flows on. Or, in Microsoft’s typically geeky way of presenting things:
InstaLoadâ„¢ is a mechanical battery contact design that does not require special electronics or circuitry. The InstaLoadâ„¢ battery configuration includes a set of positive and negative contacts at both ends, instead of a single positive contact at one end and a single negative contact at the other end. …
The core of the InstaLoadâ„¢ technology is the individual battery contacts assembly. The relationship between the battery terminals and the InstaLoad battery contacts is shown in the figure below. At one end of the battery, the battery interfaces with either the positive contacts (light gray) or the negative contacts (black). The battery interfaces with the opposite contact at its other end. When coupled with PCB traces, proper power polarity is automatically delivered to the device.
Assuming this thing really works, the main question is, what the heck is Microsoft doing designing a battery holder? The answer: They’re not. The Instaload is part of Microsoft’s IP Licensing division, through which the company hopes to license patents and designs to other companies, which will make the actual products. So far, Duracell and a handful of other companies have licensed Instaload. Others are presumably studying the patent right now to see how they can make similar products without paying Microsoft.