Mobile Phones



The eyes have it as China’s ZTE unveils its first ‘crowdsourced’ smartphone

Telecoms giant launches the result of its appeal to wisdom of the crowds which tracks users’ eyes to navigate across screen

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 January, 2017, 8:05pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 January, 2017, 11:01pm

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.

China’s ZTE steps up expansion drive, unfazed by US restrictions

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.

A user can automatically scroll pages, up and down or left to right, based on novel eye-tracking feature that is accurate within a short range. Voice commands can also be used to navigate between pages.

With an optional case, the smartphone can also be mounted to a vertical surface to allow for hands-free use of applications.

ZTE USA vice-president of technology planning and partnerships Jeff Yee said: “With Project CSX, we experimented by turning the typical research and development process on its head and did something completely different within the industry.”

Other Hawkeye features include: two subscriber identity module slots for multiple band support, 5.5-inch high-definition touch screen, fingerprint sensor, expandable memory, quick-charging battery and Google’s Android Nougat operating system.

Its name was also sourced via 540 submissions from consumers around the world.

According to Counterpoint Research, ZTE was the world’s seventh-largest smartphone supplier in the third quarter with a 4.1 per cent market share. It was the fourth-highest selling brand in North America and Europe.