We spent this year redesigning the Nintendo Switch dock, making it smaller and smaller until it eventually disappeared. It's essentially an invisible dock hidden covertly in an inconspicuous, but sleek charger.
Let’s tackle the obvious here though. The Switch does not actually sit directly on the Covert Dock, but it does have docking capability. So how does it connect? Glad you asked:
You can display your game onto the big screen with just a Covert Dock - leaving all the additional docks, chargers, and/or dongles connected at home.
One of the secrets behind making Covert Dock so powerful without the bulk is thanks to Gallium Nitride, or abbreviated to three magical letters from the periodic table, GaN:
By using the latest GaN technology, we get incredible efficiency gains that run cooler enabling us to surpass the limits of last generation silicon chargers. Take a peek inside:
When we say it's compact, we're pretty serious about it - we got rid of all the un-necessary bulk. It's 1/10th the size of the original dock, or put it another way, 90% smaller!
And if you compare it to the original charger alone, it's 22% smaller and does way more. We're not even including the extra space those inconvenient prongs take up when packed.
How else does it measure up? Well its somewhere between Genki Audio and an individual Joy-Con (without that pesky analog stick poking out).
Countless times we wished our chargers had foldable prongs. When they stick out they snag onto things and can even scratch our precious screens. During our design, we found out that it’s really difficult to make a charger that is both small and have foldable prongs.
The Covert Dock is designed for the Nintendo Switch, but it's actually quite robust and works with a lot of USB-C devices - you'll want to take it every time you leave the house.
The tiny port on the top is basically your trusty USB-C port designed to work to the standard charging profiles of the Nintendo Switch. But unlike other chargers, it also grabs the display data from the USB-C device so that it can be processed for the HDMI display output. Beyond just matching the Nintendo Switch charging profiles, the Covert Dock complies with the latest PD 3.0 protocols meaning you can fast charge smartphones (250% faster) and tablets, and even power hungry laptops, including the latest USB-C only MacBooks.
Unlike other chargers that have two ports, our USB 3.1 port actually passes data as well, so you don't just charge your controllers you can actually connect your accessories whether it's a wired controller, ethernet adapter, Genki Audio, or whatever crazy accessory you're packing. It also works with tablets and computers so if you have one of the fancy systems without USB-A ports, you'll be able to hook up your flash drive, wireless mouse or a presentation clicker in a pinch.
Getting down to the last port, we come to the world's first HDMI port built into a charger, ever. It's designed to work with the custom display profile for the Nintendo Switch but additionally supports the DisplayPort standard so you can broadcast whatever you want, wherever you want; from showing off your latest PowerPoint presentation skills to binge watching Stranger Things (or Dark).
Covert Dock is ready to go, take it with you to your favorite bar, taco truck, dorm room, game/comic convention, hotel lounge, office meeting space, friend's house, friend's friend's house, and maybe even when visiting the family - we can't wait to see where you'll take the fun.
When developing the passthrough charging for our previous Genki Audio adapter, we learned a lot about how power is managed by the Switch and how important it was to choose reliable components for peace of mind.
Our engineer, Andrew wrote up a in-depth article on the causes of bricking and has even been picked up by Ars Technica, essentially it's caused by poor components overloading the M92T36 chip which manages the docking and power of the Switch. When damaged, the Switch cannot be charged, but fortunately the chip is replaceable and your save progress is unharmed.
To maximize reliability, we made sure not to skimp on parts. We've configured the Covert Dock to use only standard Switch charging profiles when used with the console and conform to PD standards for other USB-C devices. We've worked closely with experts in this field, including producers of the official Switch AC adapter, engineers of various docks in the market (including Insignia), and the developers behind reputable PD and GaN technologies (Navitas).
We’ve selected premium components and are getting global certification for complete protection for you and your devices. We have a dedicated chip to manage and prevent over current/voltage production, overheating, overpowering, and short circuits. Additionally, we’ve made it possible to update the firmware so that we can maintain compatibility in the unlikely event that the Switch docking protocol changes through firmware updates and new hardware revisions.
Here's a quick demo with Andrew demoing and Eddie kicking the trash can:
Together, we founded Human Things in 2017 on the idea that real objects could be special like those found in video games - you know the ones where you open treasure chests filled with enchanted items that give your character special abilities.
We first want to thank and acknowledge Charlie, Cici, Su, and Angela for coming together last minute to review our crazy script, and through many late nights shaping it into an amazing video.
Thank you to our cast of friends and loved ones, including Jennifer, Ivette, Rory, Nathan, Ricardo, Vitor, Carmo, and Bill for sacrificing some of the nice weekend sun to help us bring this fun video to life.
Shout-outs to fra/ctal, Heck, Poon, Chack, Zak, eggnog, Doomblaze, VHS, and the rest of the competitive Smash community for helping us capture the epic party closing.
Our sincerest appreciation to Roanna and Stephanie our wonderful graphic designers who volunteered their time to really inject some fun to our Kickstarter page.
Dank u to Christian for building out and managing our European outpost in Amsterdam.
With additional thanks for our wonderful friends at WeWork Labs, Kickstarter, Stone Brewing.
And of course, we want to thank backers like you. With your crowdfunding support we’ve been able to operate as a quirky indie hardware developer free from outside investors. This means we can keep our focus on designing innovative human things we believe in without compromises.