First, we got AI-powered bird feeders that can tell you who is visiting your backyard, and now, a new pair of AI-supported binoculars can identify over 9,000 species of birds and other wildlife while you’re hiking in the woods or roaming the halls of CES. Okay, there are no birds at CES (and not many around the Las Vegas Strip, which may not be by accident), but I did get to test out the smart binos and do some twitching (of the birding kind) on the show floor.
These Marc Newson-designed Swarovski Optic AX Visio binoculars look and feel like standard high-end binos, but when I trained them on a nearby avian (actually, a cardboard cutout on the top of a wood pole), they told me its species.
Photo by Jennifer Pattison Tuohy / The Verge
Here’s how: when the bird was in focus, I pressed a button, and a red circle filled in as the binoculars processed the image. Within about five seconds, the name — “American kestrel” — popped up on the screen.
Most birds move fast, so five seconds felt a beat too long, but the tech, powered by an “integrated operating and object-recognition system” and onboard neural processing unit, is undeniably cool. The binoculars are 10 x 32 with a 1,000-yard field of view, and the image was crystal clear.
As an avid wildlife watcher, I would absolutely love a pair of these — especially as they also take pictures and video with a 13MP and 1080p video camera that you can transfer wirelessly to the Swarovski Optik Outdoor app on your phone. But at $4,799, this is probably not an impulse buy.
The binoculars also have built-in GPS to help the onboard processor know the type of species you might be looking at based on your location.
Another neat feature is a “Share discoveries” function that allows arrow markers to pop up in the viewfinder so you can pass the binoculars to a friend and they can be guided to what you saw. The AX Visio will be available to buy in February.