Sure, most laptops let you swap out a battery while the machine's asleep, but sometimes you need things to stay running while you switch out powerpacks -- which is where inventor Ric Richardson's hotswap batteries come into play. In addition to their traditional contacts, the cells have a small extension that plugs into your machine's power jack, allowing you to take out the dead battery and plug in the new one without having to shut down. It's a deceptively simple idea, but Richardson's got a patent on it, and he says he's talking to various companies like HP and Lenovo about using it in consumer laptops. We're definitely intrigued -- but here's hoping there's a good way to stow that cable afterwards.

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