ZTE Corp, China’s largest listed telecommunications equipment manufacturer, has made its first “crowdsourced” smartphone ready for pre-orders in the United States, a year after the company announced a plan to ask the public for ideas on how its next major mobile phone for this year should be designed.
At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Wednesday, ZTE unveiled its “Hawkeye” smartphone with new eye-tracking and self-adhesive back features suggested by the winning entry in the firm’s Project CSX (Crowd Source X) initiative.
The new 4G smartphone could be pre-ordered on the Kickstarter crowdfunding website for a discounted US$199 and would be available worldwide in the third quarter, the Shenzhen-based company said.
“The Hawkeye device sets the stage for us in 2017,” ZTE senior vice-president Cheng Lixin said in a statement. “As we move forward with this smartphone, we’ll look to continue to integrate consumers every step of the way.”
The two key Hawkeye features, which were voted upon by thousands of consumers through ZTE’s Z-Community forum, allow for hands-free navigation through common applications.
The company didn't reveal many specs for the upcoming device, which is currently still a prototype. But ZTE said the phone will have a 5.5-inch HD display, dual-SIM slots, a fingerprint sensor and expandable memory. Like the company's other phones, Hawkeye will run Android and come unlocked.
But the most interesting aspect of the phone is the feature that likely gave it the "Hawkeye" name: eye tracking. Powered by the phone's front-facing camera, the phone will track users' eye movements to allow them to scroll through their reading material and other content.
The phone will also ship with a "self adhesive" case to further enable hands-free use. The case is made out of an unnamed material that allows it to "stick against most vertical surfaces," according to the company.
The Hawkeye costs $199 during the Kickstarter (ZTE has set a $500,000 goal) and the company says it expects to ship the device by September 2017.