ZTE wants you to design its next blockbuster gadget?
ZTE said at a press conference at the IFA trade show on Thursday that the initiative, which has been gathering ideas from the public, would move into the voting phase. With the help of judges from ZTE, the company plans to narrow the ideas down to three, with two “wild card” options, by September 12. Then, it will seek out engineering and design feedback from its users.
Project CSX is part of a wider initiative to raise awareness for ZTE, Chinese phone maker largely known for making cheap phones for the prepaid market. The company is on a mission to change that perception, which began with the debut of its Axon line of premium phones last year.
ZTE has built its position — it’s the fourth-largest phone maker in the US — on phones sold through the likes of T-Mobile’s MetroPCS prepaid arm, but wants to stand out for more than affordability. The company has invested in high-profile partnerships with the likes of the Golden State Warriors and Madison Square Garden.
ZTE plans to hold a design session on Saturday at IFA, where its own engineers and designers will provide advice and instructions on creating a viable design.
The company has already fielded around 400 ideas, ranging from a virtual reality display grafted onto a diving mask (so you can jump into your pool and see what it’s like to snorkel in the Mediterranean Sea) to a Bluetooth-connected glove that can track your movements for physical therapy or to play the guitar.
“The best-case scenario is that we get something that defines a whole new category,” Jeff Yee, vice president of technology planning and partnerships at ZTE, said in an interview ahead of the show.
But this is less about making money on a new product and more about building a relationship with consumers. Project CSX has drawn users to its website, where its “Z Community” has been steadily building.
While Yee said he would like to see one of the stranger products win, he said that with the ideas that are shaping up, it’ll likely end up being another phone.