Unistellar’s new smart binoculars may change binocular observation as we know it

by gregoryo18

Established smart telescope manufacturer Unistellar has started a Kickstarter for a potentially game-changing device: Smart binoculars.

The company revealed its new Envision smart binoculars last month, and they use AR (augmented reality) to help understand the world around you, and the sky above you, both day and night.

We have yet to try them but by offering an AR overlay on command, they’re closer to the sci-fi spy goggles of Hollywood than we’ve ever been before. We’ve reviewed their eQuinox 2 smart telescope and eVscope 2 premium smart telescope and were very impressed, giving them both 4.5 out of 5 stars.

While the binoculars are hardly on the cheap side at $999, there are 1000 ‘early bird’ units available at a steep discount of $400. You’ll just need to sign up to be notified when they go on sale over at Kickstarter.

Rather than relying on the huge optics and massive magnification of the best stargazing binoculars and then carrying a smaller pair for daytime observations, Unistellar’s Envision smart binoculars aim to do both in one device.

You should be able to lock onto subjects and pass them between friends whilst the binocular navigates the new observer to the target. Or have a 3D map overlay to label what you’re looking at, whether it’s mountains and landmarks, or constellations in the night sky.

In fact, when you combine the cost of a regular set of stargazing binoculars and daytime wildlife spotting binoculars, we think the full price of these Envision smart binoculars starts to make a little more sense.

Why use Augmented Reality in binoculars?

Unistellar Envision Smart Binoculars in use on location

The Envision smart binoculars will overlay a map and label landmarks and night sky objects while you observe. (Image credit: Unistellar)
  • 3D map overlays for landmarks and celestial objects
  • Target lock and share between friends with the binoculars navigating to the object automatically
  • Use as traditional binoculars with Augmented Reality features switched off

The included companion app will essentially use data from maps and the user’s location to present things like a 3D overlay map that showcases landmarks, water sources and points of interest.

At night, you will be able to look up and pick out the stars in the sky like an experienced astronomer. That sounds a lot like Celestron’s own ‘Star Tour’ functionality but a little more interactive. Guided Navigation mode will help users find just about anything they need.

Unistellar Envision Smart Binoculars showing augmented reality in an eyepiece.

Augmented Reality overlays a map on the scene you’re observing for easy labeling and learning. (Image credit: Unistellar)

One of the features that fascinates us the most is being able to ‘Target Lock’ to a subject, be it an animal or star (or just about anything else) so you can pass your binoculars to a friend or family member and they can instantly spot what you saw.

You can, as you might imagine, switch things off entirely and be left with a pair of classic binoculars that the company calls ‘high quality’ even without the AR tech.

While there’s no official end date for the Kickstarter, the listing does mention a 30-day returns policy, a two-year warranty for peace of mind and free shipping if the Kickstarter is successful.

Looking for something more immediate? Why not check out our list of the best binoculars overall, best binoculars for stargazing, or the best binoculars for kids.

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