Famous xkcd comic comes full circle with AI bird-identifying binoculars

Enlarge / The Swarovski Optik Visio binoculars, with an excerpt of a 2014 xkcd comic strip called “Tasks” in the corner. (credit: xckd / Swarovski)

Last week, Austria-based Swarovski Optik introduced the AX Visio 10×32 binoculars, which the company says can identify over 9,000 species of birds and mammals using image recognition technology. The company is calling the product the world’s first “smart binoculars,” and they come with a hefty price tag—$4,799.

“The AX Visio are the world’s first AI-supported binoculars,” the company says in the product’s press release. “At the touch of a button, they assist with the identification of birds and other creatures, allow discoveries to be shared, and offer a wide range of practical extra functions.”

The binoculars, aimed mostly at bird watchers, gain their ability to identify birds from the Merlin Bird ID project, created by Cornell Lab of Ornithology. As confirmed by a hands-on demo conducted by The Verge, the user looks at an animal through the binoculars and presses a button. A red progress circle fills in while the binoculars process the image, then the identified animal name pops up on the built-in binocular HUD screen within about five seconds.

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