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The Binocular Advisor

Birding Binoculars

Part 9

The Future of Birding Optics

The binoculars of the future will be part of a digital information system. They will not only amplify your seeing but will also make video and sound recordings of your experiences. They will link wirelessly to the personal computer in your pocket, where your birding database resides. The computer, in turn, will be linked by satellite to a world-wide information network.

Your binoculars will also function as a video display device. Ask, "What does the marbled godwit look like?" and a high-resolution video of that species will play in the eyepieces of your binoculars. Your day's video recordings will be your field notes, recorded automatically, and at the end of the day you can gather with other birders and link your personal computers to a large screen to show each other your best video highlights.

Since your binoculars can read out the compass direction and range of what you're viewing, and your personal computer always knows its exact position on the planet, the location of your sightings will record automatically. Data on migration, bird populations, and habitat could be analyzed regionally even as it is being gathered.

Electronic zoom and stabilization will be standard features. Light amplification will let you see even by starlight. Or tune in to different light frequencies: choose infrared to see in complete darkness, or make the still-warm tracks of animals visible; choose ultraviolet to see the flowers and foliage as insects do.

Of course, the binoculars of the future will be rugged and completely waterproof. Solar-cell material will coat their surfaces to provide all the power needed by the electronics. And if you misplace your binoculars, you can ask them to please broadcast their location so you can retrieve them.

Advanced technology? Yes, but whatever comes will still be stone age stuff compared to the technology of a hummingbird.

—Michael and Diane Porter

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Need Specific

If you're about to get some new binoculars but don't quite know where to start, check out the Binoculars Advisor for specific, name-naming recommendations.

Michael and Diane Porter, who have been reviewing binoculars for Bird Watcher's Digest for over a decade, suggest binoculars for particular needs and price ranges.