[Interview] Human Things

Written by Kieran Fifield

Music to my ears

One of the main issues that I’ve had with the Nintendo Switch is the inability to pair wireless headphones to it whilst playing in handheld. Thankfully for me, a company called Human Things heard the prayers I uttered to the gods of Nintendo and have created the Genki Bluetooth adapter to save day. No, not just the day, the world…..

I recently had a little chat with one of the brains behind this delightful little device. Stay tuned for a full review later this week.

Hello and welcome to Nintendad, congratulations on a successful kickstarter campaign and on reaching the final steps of this journey. The finish line is almost in sight!
If you could introduce yourself, your company Human Things and your product, the GenkiBluetooth adaptor for Nintendo Switch.

Hi, my name’s Eddie and myself and two friends started Human Things last year basically to make thoughtful products designed around the human experience.  Our first released product is the Genki Bluetooth audio adapter which brings premium USB-C Bluetooth 5 audio to the Nintendo Switch.

There is a similar product on the Market, Gulikit. Aside from the obvious difference in aesthetics, with your own product sharing a lovely synergy with the switch, could you talk about what makes Genki stand out from the competition?

Genki is the original USB-C Bluetooth audio adapter for the Nintendo Switch.There have been a few “copycats” in the market since our campaign but here are some key differences:

  1. Bluetooth 5 vs 2.0/3.1: not only does our chipset have better compatibility and sound quality; we designed the feature from scratch with the Switch in mind vs Gulikit who basically soldered out-of-production components to a makeshift USB-C board
  2. AAC codec – the main audio codec for popular headphones, speakers, and smartphones offers great stereo sound at 90ms vs Gulikit’s 200ms (although both support aptX very few headphones today support the standard). This means literally with Apple AirPods you get more than twice the latency with the Gulikit
  3. True multi-broadcast – leveraging this Bluetooth 5 technology we’re able to pair and transmit to two audio devices simultaneously meaning you can share the fun on-the-go without disturbing others or just chill and enjoy YouTube with a loved one
  4. Full featured USB Audio – works with many devices beyond the Switch because it’s a real USB audio device and is compatible with PS4 (Gulikit is detected as keyboard), Windows, Mac, Android, and iPad Pro
  5. Super efficient – Doesn’t require charging and has a pass through charging port, takes only 25 milliwatt of power which is less than 1% of the Switch’s battery and actually consumes less than using the internal speakers.

The pass through feature is absolutely essential to the Genki, allowing charging whilst in use,was this something that was conceptualised from the products inception?

Actually this was one of the biggest requests from backers when we first started.  At the time it didn’t seem possible but we were able to find a solution mid-way through the project and were able to actually put it into the final product design – however this had a huge toll on our delivery estimates pushing everything back a month.

Which ties us nicely into the next question.
You’ve always stayed very up to date with social media, particularly that of the reddit community. Has that proved helpful in addressing issues and concerns from potential backers and has the community directly influenced any changes to the product, for example – the inclusion of a microphone to allow voicechat in Fortnite?

To be honest we started pretty early building up an email list with a landing page that explained our product and we really hadn’t designed this with the dock adapter, stand, or mic in mind.  The dock adapter and stand came at the request from people who saw our initial product and then we made sure to include it our campaign.  We launched the day when Fortnite was announced so it was huge opportunity for us.  The mic was the best compromise for audio quality and simple execution without jeopardizing the current design.

Packaging plays such a crucial role in selling a product, and I really think you’ve nailed it by making yours resemble a Switch game case. How did that come about? Was it to try and hit the lucrative collectors market, or simply so you never forget where you left it?

It’s interesting. This idea came up mid-project when people started to talk about what the packaging would be like and one of the comments was that they’d rather have no packaging since it’d just be tossed away.  Well then we figured well why not make the packaging actually functional so that you can use it almost as a carry kit holding up to 4 games and all the Genki goodies on the go.  Honestly we had a lot of trouble at the beginning as we had to slim down both Genki and redesign the stand to make it fit into this awesome package.

I personally love the synergy between the Joy Con colours and the product. In future production runs will you look at different colours? Neon Yellow or the deep red to match the Odyssey Joy Cons?

We actually created these colors for the Kickstarter just as limited editions and honestly its been crazy on our supply chain but we’re about to finish those and send them out to our backers.

With Smash Bros. Ultimate having an awesome option to put the Switch into sleep mode and carry on listening to the soundtrack, I for one can’t wait to, for example go about the chores, hoovering etc with the Genki connected. What is the range like?
Also, will I be able to connect to my car’s stereo and do the same?

With our early testing we were surprised to have reached over 20m in a hallway, but we’re at least certifiable for 10m. Anywhere in your house should be fine.  Unless l you live in a faraday cage.
Without doubt you’ll be able to connect to your cars bluetooth headset using the Genki. The product as, earlier mentioned, utilises Bluetooth 5 which means it’s compatible with all devices and future proof too!!

While we’re on the subject of Smash Bros. Ultimate, who are you most looking forward to playing as? Or do you have a legacy favourite who you will main?

If you open up the case we have a few nostalgia inspired characters – it may not be obvious but I’m a big fan of Ness from not only Earthbound days (localize Mother 3!) but even as my favourite character from the original Smash Bros – everyone in my dorms thought it was a joke but I showed them the other end of my bat wasn’t for decoration.

The project has been a roaring success and a lot of people will shortly be getting their hands on the Genki. Do you have anything in mind for your next project? Will it be Nintendo Switch specific?

We have both non-Switch and Switch related projects being prototyped.  Honestly we’re looking to make things that simply enhance the gaming experience – we have an internal test group called the Genki Lab full of talented people from all walks of life, from the gaming industry, to engineers, to designers, and just hardcore Nintendo fans.  We’re lucky to have such a diverse backer base even ones who work at Nintendo, Sony Playstation, Ubisoft, Blizzard, and Square Enix.

Thank you for your time, it’s been great chatting and all the best with this and future projects. 

Anytime Kieran, thanks!

The Genki Bluetooth Adapter is available now, get your very own right here.

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