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Microsoft tech lets batteries load in either direction

Software maker said it has started licensing its InstaLoad technology, which allows batteries to be inserted either way, regardless of polarity.

Microsoft has started licensing a technology that could come in handy for anyone who as ever tried to put new batteries in a flashlight in the middle of the night.

The company said Thursday it has a patent for designing devices so that batteries can be inserted either way, regardless of polarity. Dubbed InstaLoad, Microsoft said, the technology is now available for license to other companies.

Further, the company said it will offer the license royalty-free to companies making products for people with hearing, vision, or learning disabilities.

Battery maker Duracell and flashlight manufacturer AE Light are among the first companies to license the technology, Microsoft said.

The technology appears to work simply enough, including both positive and negative contacts at both ends. A center contact at the top supports a positive charge, while the wider bottom contact supports negative polarity.

Still, it would seem to be a big time saver. Microsoft bills it as particularly useful for devices that use a lot of batteries, that need to have batteries changed frequently, or that can be damaged if the batteries are inserted improperly.

Microsoft said InstaLoad can work with any cylindrical battery, disposable or rechargeable, including any standard ones like AA, AAA, C, and D cells, as well as less common ones like those used in some cameras.

For several years now, the software maker has had a program to license out intellectual property, particularly technologies that are not directly applicable to its own products.

As seen in this diagram, InstaLoad technology allows the batteries to be loaded in any of the possible combinations. Microsoft.