The idea is to give people who buy Corsair parts a bonus, really. It's actually pretty cool software, still in its early stages, but we have big plans. I think ESA was great, technically, but the problem was implementation. There weren't any real incentives for manufacturers to add the ESA compatibility to their hardware.
As the sole manufacturer of Corsair Link stuff, we don't have that problem. Dominators will be compatible, as will some of our PSUs, CPU coolers, cases, etc.
As far as functionality, there are three main components, which aren't named yet, but I'll refer to them as Hub unit, Fan controller, and Light controller.
The Hub unit is a little plastic box about the size of a couple of packs of chewing gum. It has some I2C connectors on it and a USB out. The I2C connectors can be plugged directly into the Airflow Pro or a Dominator module, as well as the Light controller and Fan controller.
The fan controller and light controller are much also thin plastic pieces housing a PCB each. in the case of the fan controller it has a series of 4-pin PWM fan headers and an I2C connector to plug into the hub. The Lighting controller has a series of connectors that can be plugged into RGB LED light strips (a few of which will be included in the box).
Everything can be controlled in software - actual fan RPM (you set the fan to run at 1532 RPM, it'll run at 1532 RPM), just about any color of lighting possible, pulsing lighting, low or high lighting, etc. You can even set protocols for certain circumstances, for example: When the CPU cooler liquid reaches 48C, increase CPU FAN 1 to 1650 RPM and change lighting in area 1 from blue to orange. Just an example, but it's all customizable in software.
The real technology here isn't the three little plastic boxes (which can be mounted behind the mother board tray, on the backside of a hard drive cage, or in a drive bay, wherever - they're very tiny) it's the software interface. We may even add future products to this lineup - SSDs? PSUs? Whatever.
The best part is that it doesn't cost a lot to implement on most devices - the H60, for example, has a temperature out connector so you can actually plug the fan from the H60 into the fan controller, the temperature out into the fan controller as well, and then have it automatically adjust fan speed based on water temp if you wanted. Not really that different than the motherboard's built-in fan control for CPU temp except that the temperature reading will be far more accurate and the fan control can be done in software through windows automatically and fairly quickly should you want to do it.