June 20, 2024


As a kid, perhaps unsurprisingly, I was the only person I knew interested in birdwatching. Nevertheless, I regularly went out in nature armed with my binoculars, bird book, and camera, ready to document as many species as I could. 

The process was largely manual — spot a bird through the binoculars, snap a pic (if it stood still for long enough), and then try to figure out what species it was, if I didn’t already know. But the times they are a changin’. 

Austrian optical specialist Swarovski Optik has just unveiled the world’s first pair of smart binoculars. Powered by AI, the binos can identify 9,000 species of birds and other wildlife for you. 

Here’s how they work. When you find a bird in your field of vision, you press a button, and a red circle surrounds the object as the binoculars process the image. Within about five seconds, the name of the animal pops up on the screen. Most birds move fast though, so I’m skeptical that five seconds is quick enough.

A view from the AX Visio smart binoculars