dockcase USB-C smarthub

DockCase by Seesaw is a Kickstarter project that lays bare the implications of fusing DC power and digital media into an intelligently managed, comprehensive, miniaturized system. There is more in this one unit that shows the future of architectural lighting/digital media/net-zero energy systems than anything I’ve seen from “lighting controls” suppliers of late.

As I’ve written about previously in my Six Trends…piece, modern architectural projects are fusing DC power systems, data-driven digital media, interactive controls and cloud-based commissioning. The revolution is profound. Strikingly, the complications encountered in modern commercial construction are similar to the challenges USB-C hubs face: Managing complex bi-directional flows of DC power, managing large flows/processing of pixel data, interfacing/connecting a myriad of devices, IP connectivity and creating interfaces for commissioning/inspecting all those flows of power and data.

When trying to help people envision future technology trends in architectural environments, it can be very tricky to help folks genuinely internalize the implications. As such, I often find myself referencing technology or R&D developments outside the construction world to help colleagues understand where architectural lighting/digital media needs to head. This USB-C hub is a perfect example. Just consider the incredible miniaturization this device represents: Imagine just 5 years ago the size of the equipment needed to match the specs contained in this tiny, hand-held device:

Let’s put a really fine point on how this applies to lighting:

Already – TODAY – you can buy a vast assortment of USB-driven lighting. Ranging from desk lamps to LED strips to photography lighting, USB has already become a de-facto lighting industry standard (whether or not anyone in the lighting industry has cared to notice). In fact, some the most innovative development in small-form factor lighting is due to the miniaturization and control offered by the USB standard. Something like the Dockcase is incredibly close to providing a comprehensive lighting+digital media control solution.

So what happens when you take a device like the Dockcase, feed it with power from an onsite net-zero energy DC-based infrastructure and use it to power your various “pixels” – single channel lights, multi-channel lighting, ambient communications and high-resolution interfaces? Commissioned remotely?

That sounds far closer to what modern commercial projects need than any sort of AC-legacy IoT network concepts that the lighting industry has been pushing for over a decade now…