Genki does what Ninten-doesn’t
Human Things – the company behind the Genki brand of Nintendo Switch accessories – don’t do things by halves. From their initial project, the Genki BlueTooth adapter to last year’s incredibly popular Covert Dock, they’ve brought high-end products that enrichen the gaming experience. It’s not a case of simply copy and pasting what everyone else is doing, they’re constantly looking to innovate. The Covert Dock was a hugely ambitious project that really caught the world’s attention and was backed to the hilt, smashing Kickstarter records for the year in the process. It’s unfortunate that a pandemic shortly followed its release as the Covert Dock, designed for bringing the big-screen aspect of the Nintendo Switch with you, wherever you go, became a stay-at-home dock. Once again Human Things adapted and used their own quarantine time to bring something that none of us thought we needed to the table.
When Human Things sent me a market research email for their theoretical upcoming project, last July, I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t blown away. While the idea was neat and it was certainly something that could prove popular, it didn’t resonate with me. At the same time, it didn’t completely take me by surprise either. It didn’t make me giddy or excited to share the news in the same manner as their previous products have. Sure, I was curious to get some hands-on time with it, but it never felt as though it would find a place on the list of must-have Nintendo Switch accessories.
Fast-forward six months, and having not heard a single peep about the aforementioned product, I awoke on a crisp January morning to see a message from Human Things in my inbox. My attention instantly gravitated to it, as I expected it to be an update on the secret July project. Instead, it was information on an upcoming, all-new announcement, the ShadowCast. As I read through the press release, I was captivated. Right off the bat, I was intrigued and excited by ShadowCast and I couldn’t wait to share the news with my peers, colleagues and friends.
Cast no shadows
For those of you who don’t know what the ShadowCast is, who don’t follow this site religiously or have muted me on Twitter due to my often overly vanilla content, the ShadowCast is a tiny little USB dongle that plugs into the USB port of your laptop or Mac and allows you to plug your Nintendo Switch (or PS5 – maximum input of 4K supported) in and uses that device’s screen to display your console. Human Things are promising a seamless, lag-free experience that will be supported through a custom built app, with browser support in the works too, to allow use on tablets as well.
Anyone concerned about how the ShadowCast will perform should look no further than at their Freshman and Sophomore offerings. The Genki Bluetooth Adapter received $500,000 of backing on Kickstarter and despite some delays that were out of the team’s hands, mainly production of parts, orders were shipped in a timely manner and although many other companies have copied it since, the Genki remains the industry benchmark. Bringing Bluetooth audio to Nintendo Switch was a big move from Human THings.
Last year, they followed that up with the Covert Dock, again on Kickstarter. This time, they utterly destroyed their ceiling and receive $1.8 million USD, making it the most baked project on Kickstarter in 2019. Despite shipping during a worldwide pandemic, the Genki Covert Dock was swiftly despatched and once again, the product slapped! My own Covert Dock was permanently set up by my PC, so I could quickly capture video when required, however, when my launch day Official Switch Dock simply stopped working, during the first Lockdown, I opted to make the Covert Dock my main Switch Dock and have been using it as such, since May last year. Without a single issue. Believe me when I say, the Human Things team are incredibly smart people who understand how to make top-tier tech. This allows them to communicate, which they often do too, clearly and concisely, allowing simpletons like you and I, dear reader, to understand the techno mumbo-jumbo that they’re explaining.
Little boxes on my desktop
Beyond the initial reveal, it’s exciting to consider how the ShadowCast will augment the landscape of streaming. Not only does it allow competent, entry-level video capture, but due to a fascinating design choice, will offer something just a little bit different. The ShadowCast can be detected as a webcam which opens up some really interesting options, moving forward. The idea of a round of Mario Kart between the Nintendad team, through a Zoom call, with each racer’s respective actions having their own full-tiled screen with minimal set-up fuss makes the idea of Monday morning team meetings exponentially more enjoyable. Beyond that, Animal Crossing Podcasts, with each respective participant wandering around their island during the recording, and having a sister-screen alongside their video feed, or a Breath of the Wild speedrun, with all participants aiming to leave the Great-Plateau the quickest. Oh, these are all officiall Nintendad content ideas, FYI. Patents pending. Consider this a scoop, and a warning, plagiarists!
Going back to affordablity, the ShadowCast is just $35. Seriously, that is incredible value for a device that will offer so much. I’ve already implored the collective members of Nintendad to back the project. The possibilities to create unique content with it are only limited by your imagination. Even if you have a stormless brain, the StealthCast offers more than enough through it’s base function to justify it’s modest price point. But it’s the manner in which it captures the imagination so vividly that makes it an imitable Human things accessory. In a way, it almost feels slightly Nintendo in that regard.