Marc Newson x Swarovski Optik AX Visio Binoculars Can Identify Over 9,000 Birds

01.23.24 | By
Marc Newson x Swarovski Optik AX Visio Binoculars Can Identify Over 9,000 Birds

You might have noticed during the last few years that many of us picked up a niche interest or two – baking, foraging, playing boardgames, or pickleball – and perhaps most curiously, enjoyed the slow-paced pleasures of birdwatching. If you needed further proof of this mostly silent endeavor’s growing popularity, dedicated search of, and appreciation for our winged friends, look no further than these AI-enhanced Swarovski Optik AX Visio Binoculars designed by Marc Newson.

Top view ofthe SWAROVSKI OPTIK AX Visio smart binoculars showing its control buttons and focus ring.

The Australian-born designer may seem like a surprising figure to associate with birdwatching, but the AI-enhanced binoculars are actually Newson’s second collaboration with Swarovski Optik – the first being the pocket-sized CL Curio binoculars he designed in 2021. While those initial compact binoculars are small, analog, and lightweight, the AI-supported $5,000 AX Visio challenge Newson to focus beyond optics and ergonomics, but also integrate a slew of technology into an easy-to-operate interface that users can quickly acclimate to.

SWAROVSKI OPTIK AX Visio smart binoculars set on outdoor wooden table beside a person dress in white pants and sneakers.

The AX Visio looks naturally the part of a traditional binocular rather than a tech device, with Newson’s associated biomorphic modernist approach toned to a glimmer rather than a glow here. The designer says making the AX Visio an “approachable and usable” object was paramount in its conception.

Looking through the eyepieces, the AX Visio operates like any other modern pair of binoculars – point and zoom – except this AI-enhanced device includes an augmented reality display overlay, allowing users to identify over 9,000 birds and other wildlife without taking their eyes of the subject. “The AX Visio belongs to a different typology,” Newson notes, “And one that is totally new in the combination of optics and technology. Similar to a modern camera, they are optical, electronic and digital!”

Interior of the SWAROVSKI OPTIK AX Visio smart binoculars exposed, held by a person in two hands.

Marc Newson may be responsible for the binoculars’ handsomely modern exterior, but inside is where the auto bird identifying magic happens. Consisting of approximately 390 hardware parts, the core of the AX Visio is its integrated operating and object-recognition system powered by a Neural Processing Unit (NPU), allowing these binoculars to immediately offer an identification.

Noting the modern day birder doesn’t go out into the field to merely observe, but also to document, the AX Visio’s 10×32 optical zoom is also paired with an integrated camera for recording photos and videos. Captured content is designed to transfer via the SWAROVSKI OPTIK Outdoor App so users can post or share their avian antics with the world, including a Live View function to share with others in realtime.

Designer Marc Newson reviewing sketches of the SWAROVSKI OPTIK AX Visio smart binoculars on his iPad and across his sketchbook.

In regards to the design, Newson cites the greatest challenge around such technology was encapsulating all of the components and optics into a cohesive form.

“The greatest technical challenge in the design process was the size of the binoculars: the optics and technology – which includes AR, Bluetooth, GPS and a camera – must all fit within a tiny, handheld package,” Newson explains. “Like the rest of Swarovski Optik’s offerings, the AX Visio is repairable and so the object must have the capability of being taken apart, a constraint which also informed the design.”

Designer Marc Newson seated holding a pair of SWAROVSKI OPTIK AX Visio smart binoculars with his legs crossed.

Marc Newson

Birding is a pursuit of observation and inquiry, one traditionally served by field guides, websites, and organizations dedicated to identifying winged wildlife. With the advent of AI-assisted systems like those incorporated into the Swarovski Optik AX Visio Binoculars, it’s going to become a whole lot easier to find where the wild things are.

Gregory Han is a Senior Editor at Design Milk. A Los Angeles native with a profound love and curiosity for design, hiking, tide pools, and road trips, a selection of his adventures and musings can be found at