This is the third post in our series of blog updates on the development progress for the Horizontal Dock (click here to read the first and second posts). It still won’t make your Horizontal Dock appear any faster, but hopefully there will be some comfort in knowing why we’re taking extra time to bring them to market. Docking stations have historically been regarded as solutions to hardware problems, but our experience with Henge Docks led us down another line of thinking. We looked at methods of further reducing users’ friction with their environment, eliminating those little repetitive hitches that occur when transitioning from mobile to desktop. From that understanding, the Horizontal Dock was conceived as a set three of elements that come together to blur the line between the hardware and software for a seamless user experience. Those elements are hardware, which we’ve focused on extensively in the first two posts, firmware and software, which we’re about to explore.
Firmware – The Horizontal Dock was envisioned as a smart device from the very beginning, allowing for an unprecedented level of versatility and usability while being as simple as possible to operate. In addition to onboard memory and processors, the Horizontal Dock runs a sophisticated bit of updatable firmware. The firmware controls all of the dock functions and acts as a communication bridge to the MacBook itself. It uses information from the dock's various sensors and switches to seamlessly handle tasks for the user. For example, the firmware can detect when a MacBook is placed in the dock and automatically dock the ports. The firmware enables the Horizontal Dock to act a security device, prevent accidental undocking of the ports, diagnose errors and dismount external drives before undocking. Last week, the first full version of the firmware was flashed to our testing docks' memory at our factory.
Software – Earlier this year, Henge Docks began working on an optional OS X application for the Horizontal Docks called DockApp. DockApp runs in the menu bar and enables everything from the management of dock settings to automatic window positioning. The application allows the user to setup “Locations” for hardware settings and window layouts. DockApp detects when the computer has been placed in a specific Henge Dock and loads in the corresponding location profile. This means users no longer have to manually reposition their windows and audio settings when connecting to a multiple monitor setup. DockApp also creates several layers of security options for users. When the Horizontal Dock is secured with a Kensington Lock, the software can prevent undocking if a screen saver is running or the computer is powered down. For an IT Administrator running a computer lab, the software can be setup to prompt for an admin password before undocking. As with all Henge Docks, the Horizontal Dock can be used with the MacBook in factory configuration and without the software installed. Conversely, DockApp can be installed on any MacBook and many of its features can be used with Henge Docks’ Vertical Docking Stations, past and present. DockApp will be made available at no cost to all Henge Docks customers through the MacApp store by the end of 2013. We’ll be posting more details about the DockApp release over the next few weeks.
CEO, Henge Docks