ZTE plans to launch a new product in 2017, but the company doesn’t actually know what it’ll be yet.
That’s because the Chinese consumer electronics company is running a competition where users vote on a set of concepts submitted by other users. The crowd-sourced gadget campaign is called Project CSX, and last month the list of potential products was whittled down to 5 finalists.
The finalists were chosen through input from community votes and a panel of experts that looked at whether these things could feasibly be produced. Here are your remaining choices:
- An eye-tracking phone with a self-adhesive back that allows you to interact with the phone by looking at it… even when it’s stuck to a flat surface rather than held in your hands
- Intelligent smartphone covers that add features to a smartphone like an E Ink flip cover, a gamepad, PC docking station, removable second battery, or stylus holder
- Powerglove device that you wear like a glove, but which has motors to guide your fingers, allowing you to learn new skills or work on rehabilitation from a physical injury, using input from an Android apps
- A next-gen ZTE Axon phone with stock Android software and processor and camera improvements
- VR diving mask that’s designed to be worn underwater, allowing you to swim in a pool while experiencing the sensation of reef diving
Three of these finalists had been unveiled last month, but the smartphone cover and stock Android phone options are new additions… and honestly, they seem like some of the easiest for ZTE to actually build.
It wouldn’t take much work for ZTE to offer stock Android software for an upcoming phone. Sure, developing a new phone just for that purpose would be expensive, but it’d be relatively trivial for ZTE to just offer stock Android as an alternative to its own MiFavor UI on its next phone.
And there are already a few companies producing smartphone covers with E Ink screens… although they’re not really very good. The technology already exists, but it’d be nice to see a company with ZTE’s resources produce a better version.
The three other products are a little more out there, so it could be exciting to see wacky ideas turned into real gadgets due to the power of crowdsourcing. But I suspect VR diving masks, powered gloves, and eye-tracking phones with adhesive backing are likely to have niche appeal.
Maybe the voting will prove me wrong.
Voting remains open through October 19th.