Artificial intelligence, live streaming and 4K video are pretty standard features in digital cameras and smartphones nowadays, but they haven’t quite made it into binoculars — NexOptic, a Canadian optics company is aiming to change that. At CES last week, the company revealed a prototype of its DoubleTake digital binoculars, which could offer a glimpse into what the next generation of binoculars will be like.
At first glance, this gadget almost appears to be a stylish little smart speaker with a display. It’s not, as evidenced by when you fold over the thin protective pad on its front. This reveals the device’s impressive proprietary dual Blade Optics lens system, with an image sensor capable of capturing 12-megapixel stills and 4K video. You can instantly jump from 2.5x to 10x optical zoom at the touch of a button, great for tracking and honing in on an object — be it a boat, a bird, or your buddy bombing down a mountain trail — off in the distance.
Turn it around to see the most patently obvious departure from traditional binoculars. Instead of resting your eyes against rubberized eyecups, you hold it away from your face and gaze at a 5-inch high-def LCD display, a more familiar and comfortable experience for both you and any fellow onlookers. You and they will appreciate the onboard image stabilization and real-time, high resolution panning abilities. But in fact, onlookers don’t even technically need to be nearby, cause its laundry list of connectivity (GPS, wi-fi, Bluetooth, USB-C) combine to allow for live streaming and social network sharing, among other functionality.
The DoubleTake prototype I saw at the show felt lightweight, comfortable to grasp in either one or two hands. And though they didn’t offer much in the way of pricing or availability info, NexOptic did tell us that it will feature a rechargeable internal battery and be both water-resistant and shockproof. So you won’t need to baby it during your great outdoor adventures.