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Underwater VR? That crowdsourced ZTE project is coming up with some wild devices

ZTE's crowdsourced mobile device is yielding things like eye-tracking UI and robo-gloves to help you learn how to play guitar.
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Published onSeptember 12, 2016

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You may recall reading about Project CSX earlier this summer. The initiative is an interesting experiment on the part of ZTE that puts the designer cap on the heads of all of the company’s fans. The idea is to create a product that is designed democratically through the opinions of the fanbase.

Although some initially met this project dubiously, others praised ZTE’s willingness to listen to their customers. The initials in CSX stand for “Crowd Sourced X,” with the X standing in as a placeholder for whatever users want. ZTE’s only stipulations were for it to be a mobile device with mass market appeal that could be delivered in 2017.

Submit your idea for ZTE's crowd-sourced device
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The company initially outlined the steps that ideation and production would follow, and today they are announcing that the first stage is showing some promising results. The top three ideas from the initial crowd-sourced brainstorm are as follows:

  1. Consumers want to part ways with the physical operation of their phones. With this phone, eye tracking technology would help complete common or repetitive tasks that once could only be done by touch. The phone would also feature a self-adhesive polymer case that would stick to several types of surfaces.
  2. The evolution from wearables to robo-wear turns learning about oneself into educating oneself. This robotic glove helps users learn new tasks such as playing the guitar or other programmable movements the user dictates via an app.
  3. Consumers want more than just waterproofing in their next mobile device, they want complete submersion. This virtual reality headset built specifically for underwater use could transform a backyard swimming pool into the Great Barrier reef.

So it looks like Project CSX could go in a number of drastically different directions, only one of them resembling a smartphone as we conceptualize them currently. Whether we end up with a robo-glove or an underwater VR headset from ZTE remains to be seen, but we’ll certainly be keeping a close eye on this fascinating experiment over the next few months.

Submissions are still open for ideas, but they will come to a close on September 30th. After that, users will vote from October 1st to October 10th on which product they want to see make it to market. A second round of voting including only the top contenders will take place until October 19th, and then we’ll know for sure what zany new product to expect from ZTE in 2017.

What do you think of Project CSX’s current top projects? Are these genuine pieces of tech that you would find useful or mere novelties? Let us know your opinion in the comments below!

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