Another alternative is to invent battery contacts that allow our existing

Another alternative is to invent battery contacts

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Another alternative is to invent battery contacts that allow our existing cylindrical batteries to be inserted in either orientation yet still work properly: Microsoft has invented this kind of contact, which it calls InstaLoad, and is attempting to convince equipment manufacturers to use it. A third alternative is to design the shape of the battery so that it can fit in only one way. Most plug-in components do this well, using shapes, notches, and protrusions to constrain insertion FIGURE 4.2. Cylindrical Battery: Where Constraints Are Needed. Figure A shows the traditional cylindrical battery that requires correct orientation in the slot to work properly (and to avoid damaging the equipment). But look at Figure B, which shows where two batteries are to be installed. The instructions from the manual are shown as an overlay to the photograph. They seem simple, but can you see into the dark recess to figure out which end of each battery goes where? Nope. The lettering is black against black: slightly raised shapes in the dark plastic. FIGURE 4.3. Making Battery Orientation Irrelevant. This photograph shows a battery whose orientation doesn t matter; it can be inserted into the equipment in either possible
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direction. How? Each end of the battery has the same three concentric rings, with the center one on both ends being the plus terminal and the middle one being the minus terminal. A. B. four: Knowing What to Do: Constraints, Discoverability, and Feedback 127 to a single orientation. So why can t our everyday batteries be the same? Why does inelegant design persist for so long? This is called the legacy problem, and it will come up several times in this book. Too many devices use the existing standard that is the legacy. If the symmetrical cylindrical battery were changed, there would also have to be a major change in a huge number of products. The new batteries would not work in older equipment, nor the old batteries in new equipment. Microsoft s design of contacts would allow us to continue to use the same batteries we are used to, but the products would have to switch to the new contacts. Two years after Microsoft s introduction of InstaLoad, despite positive press, I could find no products that use them not even Microsoft products. Locks and keys suffer from a similar problem. Although it is usually easy to distinguish the smooth top part of a key from its jagged underside, it is difficult to tell from the lock just which orientation of the key is required, especially in dark environments. Many electrical and electronic plugs and sockets have the same problem. Although they do have physical constraints to prevent improper insertion, it is often extremely difficult to perceive their correct orientation, especially when keyholes and electronic sockets are in difficult-to-reach, dimly lit locations. Some devices, such as USB plugs, are constrained, but the constraint is so subtle that it takes much fussing and fumbling to find the correct orientation. Why aren t all these devices orientation insensitive?
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