Smartphones are mostly born out of top-down approach. Meaning, manufacturers assume what consumers need and dished them out, regardless of whether the features will be used or not. Some makers may leverage on surveys and focus groups to give a more accurate picture of the demands, but China handset maker, ZTE, did something entirely different. Embarking on a route less taken. Not only did it crowd-sourced the ideas of what a phone should be, but it has taken to Kickstarter to realize it. Refer to as Project CSX (short for Crowd Source X), Hawkeye smartphone – a name chosen by users – is based on ideas pulled from everyday users.
The result? An Android Nougat-powered handset that touts ZTE Senseye, an eye tracking technology that allows for true one-hand operation by making scrolling possible just by looking up or down, or sideways. To be honest, we are not quite clear what are the suggestions pitched by the crowd because it appears that eye tracking seems like the only features that really stands out. Ok, maybe there are two out of the ordinary features, but only if you count an optional case that sticks to walls and surfaces as a feature. Really? Really.
Beyond those, you’d be expecting pretty rudimentary stuff, including a Qualcomm Snapdragon 625 with 2GHz octacore processor, a 5.5-inch FHD touch display, a main shooter touting dual lens set up (13MP + 12MP with optical zoom), a 8MP front-facing item, 3GB of RAM along with 32GB storage – expandable via microSD card, dual SIM capability when the microSD card slot isn’t in use, a 3,000 mAh battery, plus the usual servings of connectivity and sensors.
While you may think a big name like ZTE will draw drove to its Kickstarter campaign, in reality, it didn’t. It is rather odd, actually, as Hawkeye is also touted as an unlocked device which should somehow appeal to consumers. Perhaps, eye-tracking and contract-free device aren’t much of a draw after all. At the time of this writing, Project CSX on Kickstarter managed to pull in 169 with a little over $32,000 in pledges which is still way off its targeted $500K funding goal. Then again, the campaign has 30 more days to go and so, maybe it is still too early to say, but one thing for sure, it won’t be making crowdfunding history.
If you are keen, you can pre-order a unit (subject to funding outcome, of course) on Kickstarter for $199. In the even the handset gets funded, you can expect Hawkeye at your doorstep sometime in September 2017. Check out the pitch video after the break.