Austria-based Swarovski Optik has recently introduced the AX Visio 10×32 binoculars, claiming to be the world’s first “smart binoculars” equipped with image recognition technology. Priced at $4,799, these high-tech binoculars are designed to identify over 9,000 species of birds and mammals, offering a unique blend of cutting-edge features.

In a press release, Swarovski describes the AX Visio as the “world’s first AI-supported binoculars,” highlighting their ability to assist with the identification of birds and other creatures at the touch of a button. Targeted primarily at bird watchers, the binoculars leverage image recognition technology from the Merlin Bird ID project, a creation of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

During a hands-on demo conducted by The Verge, users can point the binoculars at an animal, press a button, and witness the device’s AI processing the image. Within approximately five seconds, the identified animal’s name appears on the built-in binocular HUD screen.

The development of the AX Visio took around five years and involved approximately 390 hardware parts. Incorporating a neural processing unit (NPU) for object recognition processing, Swarovski ensures a long product life cycle with continuous updates and improvements. The company also hints at an open programming interface in the product’s press release, suggesting potential opportunities for users or hackers to expand the binoculars’ features over time.

Designed by Marc Newson, the AX Visio features a sleek industrial design and comes equipped with a digital camera, compass, GPS, and discovery-sharing capabilities. Users can instantly share their wildlife sightings with companions, enhancing the overall bird-watching experience. The binoculars also integrate with the “SWAROVSKI OPTIK Outdoor App,” allowing users to manage and share photos and videos captured through the binoculars on their smartphones.

Set to be available at select retailers and online starting February 1, 2024, the AX Visio’s premium price may pave the way for similar image-recognizing features in more affordable models as technology progresses and market competition intensifies in the coming years.

By Impact Lab