Open Innovation Contest Yields Eye Tracking Sticky Smartphone

Published Nov-21-16

Breakthrough:
A smartphone with eye tracking technology allows users to operate phone features just by moving their eyes when looking at the visual display. The device can also be stuck to walls.

Company:
ZTE Corporation, China

The Story:

Open Innovation Contest Yields Eye Tracking Sticky Smartphone Involving customers in the creation and delivery of products can be a cost-effective and faster way of meeting insatiable consumer demand for continual innovation. After all, customers know their favorite brands inside out and may well have ideas of how to improve their products and services. The rise of the internet and increased use of communications technologies have increased the scope of this type of co-creation.

Consumer-Led Smartphone Innovation

One such company tapping into the smarts and creative passions of its consumers is ZTE Corporation. The Chinese multinational telecommunications company launched Project CSX, an open innovation competition to source ideas for its next smartphone from online users.

From the development of ideas through to final voting, thousands of users from 176 countries participated and 400 submissions were made. Submitted concepts underwent an R&D review to ensure they could be technically developed, and be affordable to customers once developed. Ideas that failed this stage were sent back to participants, who could take heed of the review notes and resubmit. Those that passed the review went through to the voting phase.

Open Innovation Contest Winner

The overall winner was the "Eye-Tracking, Self-Adhesive Phone" by Team One Technology, garnering 36% of the vote in the final round. The innovation minimizes the need for people to touch their phone when in use. It employs a pair of laser-focusing cameras that translate eye movements of the user to perform specific tasks. They are placed at the top and the bottom of the camera and capture the user’s pupil movement in a vertical dimension.

The device's back cover is partially made with a self-adhesive polymer, which means the phone can be stuck onto walls or any flat surface for a truly hands-free experience. The team behind the innovative smartphone says the eye tracking functionality works best when the phone is in a stable position.

For anyone concerned that having a phone stuck on a wall means that other people can see what's on the display, split-screen technology will make it difficult to read by anyone other than the user. ZTE praised the winners for “thinking about the complete user experience”.

For their achievement, the winners received money and will be sent on an expenses paid trip to Las Vegas in January 2017 for the Consumer Electronics Show.

Other ideas that reached the final round of voting included a virtual reality-powered diving mask and a programmable glove that can control Android apps through hand movements.

The Open Innovation Contest Isn’t Over

Although the winner has been crowned, ZTE has said that Project CSX is not over as the multinational will continue to crowdsource ideas for the device's name, color and other features. The new smartphone is expected to hit the market some time in 2017.

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