Swarovski’s smart binoculars identify the birds you’re looking at

Swarovski’s smart binoculars identify the birds you’re looking at

AX Visio’s new device, which debuted at CES 2024 this week, made us want to spend more time outdoors.

Swarovski’s smart binoculars identify the birds you’re looking at | DeviceDaily.com
Photo by Daniel Cooper / Engadget

Swarovski has turned up at CES 2024 in Las Vegas with its first ever pair of smart binoculars that will identify the bird you’re looking at. All you have to do is point the gear at a bird and make sure the view is in focus, and then press down an action button. Within a few seconds, the system will overlay a bird’s name over your view, using data pulled from the Merlin Bird ID database. That has over 9,000 species tagged, and will even let you know the degree of certainty it has if the bird in question is in an unexpected location. And if this was the only feature these binoculars had, it’d be enough to justify the purchase, but that’s only the beginning of what these things can do.

Between the eyepieces, there’s a function wheel similar to one you would find on a camera that lets you cycle between various features. That includes a Wildlife ID version which hooks into its built-in Mammal, Dragonfly and Butterfly ID databases. Plus, there’s a camera which lets you send pictures and video to a paired smartphone, which would similarly be plenty to justify the expense. But the system is also designed to be expandable, with the focus wheel including space for any future custom databases you might need. For instance, one idea could be to build a database for stars, or airplane types for aviation fans to spot the make and model of what’s flying overhead.

Then there’s the discovery sharing feature, which enables you to share something you’ve found with whoever you’re outdoors with. All you need to do is tag whatever you’ve found, and then hand the AX Visio over to them, where a series of flashing arrows will guide them to where you were looking. Even in the busy halls of CES, one of the company’s representatives was able to pinpoint a far-off fire exit sign before handing me the binoculars and asking me to find it. All you need to do is follow the arrows straight to what you’re meant to be looking at with a system that’s as elegant as it is useful. There’s even a built-in compass that’ll let you identify which direction you’re gazing toward to help you navigate.

You might notice from the pictures that there are three lenses, with the central one holding the 13-megapixel sensor shooting HD-quality (1,920 x 1,080) pictures and video. There’s 8GB storage, which should hold up to an hour of video or 1,700 photos before needing to be cleared off. Beyond the smarts, the binoculars magnify up to 10x with 88 percent light transmission, thanks to the company’s high-end lenses. Swarovski says its glassware offers almost flat, distortion-free images with plenty of contrast and color fidelity.

Now, here’s the thing, my father-in-law is a serious ornithologist who is respected, at least among his peer group. His ability to spot the genus and species of a bird in flight is extraordinary and I’m often left bewildered at the depth of his knowledge. I don’t think I’d have the ability, patience or time to even get within a hundred miles of his capability. But, with a device like this, it might mean that I can at least vaguely keep up with him when we’re out on the trails.

The AX Visio is, however, not messing around with price, and Swarovski is charging €4,600 (around $5,000) for you to get this into your hands. While bird fans often have to be patient, this should start arriving at people’s homes at some point in February.

 

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