Swarovski Optik, one of the upper-echelon brands for birding and wildlife optics, is branching out into the tech world with the release of in intriguing new piece of high-tech kit. The new dG (Digital Guide) pairs cutting-edge optics with digital camera technology, integrated WiFi and automated digital identification apps for birds and animals.
The family-owned Austrian company is claiming a “world-first” with its new product: a long-range optical device that allows the user to capture what they’re looking at and sent it to their paired smartphone for documenting, sharing and identification.
Great optics as standard
The dG offers 8x optical magnification, matching the most popular choice for all-around birding and wildlife binoculars. As you’d expect from Swarovski, it comes with the same suite of industry-leading anti-reflective high-transmission coatings you’ll find in the company’s flagship birding and wildlife binoculars. The objective lens diameter of 25mm is a little on the small size, but coupled with the high-quality optics and coatings should deliver a bright, clear image in all but the most challenging of lighting conditions.
A built-in 13MP camera allows you to capture what you’re viewing through the dG in real-time and send it to your smartphone, while the integrated WiFi hotspot lets you share a live-stream of your sightings with up to 5 nearby devices simultaneously. You can also share your images to your social media streams via your smartphone.
Works with popular ID apps
The dG connects to the popular Merlin Bird ID app and dG mammals to provide identification suggestions based on photos you capture via the device, your location and the time of year. Digital Photo ID is a nascent technology but is improving all the time. The Merlin app in particular (a project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology), does a surprisingly good job of narrowing down your ID options, if not nailing the particular species, although it still struggles with trickier ID challenges.
While I’m not sure the dG will ever replace a pair of decent binoculars for birding, the ability to share experiences with a group could prove very useful, and while digital ID is still in its infancy it’s something that’s improving in leaps and bounds, so it will be interesting to see how this develops with the dG and its successors.
These first impressions are based on information provided by Swarovski Optik and not on any hands-on experience of the dG device. We’re hoping to receive a review unit from Swarovski Optik UK in the not too distant future, so stay tuned for a full review on the Ireland’s Wildlife site once we’ve had a chance to put one through its paces here on the West Cork coast.
The dG will be available from 01 April from selected Swarovski Optik retailers and online via swarovskiptik.com and will cost around €2,000. For more information check out the dG product page on the Swarovski Optik UK website.