Microsoft is announcing a new technology, InstaLoad, that allows batteries to be inserted into devices however the user chooses--potentially useful to those working in low-light conditions, or situations where batteries need to be changed frequently. The tech reinforces how large tech companies often conduct research into areas far beyond their traditional strengths.
Microsoft is announcing a new technology, InstaLoad, that allows batteries
to be inserted into a device "without regard to positive and negative
polarity," according to the company. In theory, that means no more
squinting at a micro-sized diagram embedded in the battery cover, trying to
figure out whether the leftmost battery goes negative-side-down or
Technology partners on the initiative include Duracell, which will possibly
incorporate InstaLoad into future products, as well as firms like Black Diamond
Equipment, which is working with Microsoft to build the technology into its
InstaLoad probably poses the most end-user benefit to those with a need to
change batteries rapidly, such as digital-camera users, and those who-for whatever
reason-find themselves needing to switch out batteries in low-light conditions.
Although the technology involves replacing traditional battery contacts with
those of patented design, it is compatible with off-the-shelf
Microsoft plans on offering commercial licenses for the technology, as part
of its Microsoft Hardware Intellectual Property Licensing program.
Initiatives such as InstaLoad reinforce the sheer scope of major IT
companies' research and intellectual-property licensing, often far beyond the
core technologies that drive the bulk of their revenue. Since launching its IP
licensing program in 2003, for example, Microsoft has entered into more than
600 licensing agreements with other companies, ranging from Apple and
Hewlett-Packard to LG Electronics and Nikon. Microsoft was awarded 2,906
patents in 2009, according to IFI Patent Intelligence, in wildly diverse areas
such as tablet technology.
Those agreements also have the potential to make odd bedfellows. On Feb. 22,
Microsoft announced that it had entered an agreement with Amazon.com, with whom
it competes in the cloud-computing space, for widespread access to each other's
patent portfolios. Amazon apparently agreed to pay Microsoft for the mutual
access to patents covering a wide range of technology, notably Amazon's Kindle
By granting patent licenses to each other through cross-licensing
agreements, companies can perform a delicate one-two operation of creating
stronger partnerships while avoiding patent-infringement lawsuits that can burn
revenue and goodwill. However, many companies have recently shown a proclivity
toward using their intellectual property as a bludgeon with which to assert
their market primacy; for example, Apple's
and Nokia's tit-for-tat lawsuits over smartphone technology over the past nine
rapidly escalating legal feud between Microsoft and Salesforce.com
ostensibly over cloud-technology patents.