Digital 3D 'bins' have a place, but will twitchers be switchers?

A A A

A greenfinch looks on suspiciously from afar. The finest details of his green and yellow plumage and his eyes twitching from side to side are visible through the binoculars.

He appears to briefly sum up the curious contraption being pointed in his direction. But his interest quickly wanes; he has probably seen thousands of people pointing binoculars at him from this very hide.

Fellow twitchers display a similar lack of interest in the "bins", whose only distinguishing feature seems to be that they are "a bit big for bird watching". But what neither they nor Mr Greenfinch know is that he is being filmed in 3D on the world's first pair of video-recording binoculars.

And while the ornithologists at the RSPB's Bird Fair in Lincolnshire – where the device was unveiled last week – may be content to use them for spying on a rare sighting, others may choose to put Sony's new invention to slightly more nefarious uses.

Only the most vigilant cinema usher or concert steward would have much cause to suspect that these seemingly humble binoculars (albeit costing £2,000) could be used to surreptitiously record copyrighted material in 3D as well as any high-end digital camcorder.

Sony, however, is aiming its newest product squarely at the nature enthusiast market, which a spokesman said has "seen huge growth" in recent years. But will the twitchers of Britain be persuaded to give up their traditional optical binoculars in favour of the new-fangled video version? In a world where the "bird count" – the number of individual species spotted – is the badge of honour, some are reluctant to leave behind the equipment which has served them well thus far. Others, of course, are hunting the next piece of equipment to help them in their quest for birds.

"They are quite heavy, perhaps too heavy to have out all day. But if the quality of the image is high, there will be people out there who will want them," said one twitcher, Michael Hopton, a 67-year-old retired biochemist (bird count: 420). "You might have to be a lottery winner to afford them but I am sure people will be using them before too long. You could use them for other things too, like the races or perhaps a concert."

Fred Johnson, a 56-year-old engineer (bird count: 800), said: "They are quite complex. I'm not sure I would like to have them out in the field with me; they look like they'd not be much good if you dropped them."

He added: "It is hard to see what you would use them for. If I wanted to catch a bird in flight, the video might be good for that but they are quite expensive."

The binoculars go on sale in November and there are currently only three prototypes in the UK. The manufacturer stressed that they are still in the final stages of development.

Disappointingly, there is no "figure of eight" binocular effect when the video is played back. Although, presumably, those who mix their twitching with a love of James Bond films can add that in during post production.

Another twitcher at the Bird Fair, 77-year-old Peter Carlton (bird count: 5,000), said the binoculars would be a "development for the future, certainly" but they were "going to be good". "People will take it up because they can film something they don't know and perhaps identify it later when they watch it back."

After trying them out myself (bird count: 5), I would advise that the same is not wise when applied to people. Pointing them at strangers across the street is considered antisocial, be they simple, old-fashioned opticals or the world's first pair of video-recording electronic binoculars. You have been warned.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Health & Safety Consultant

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic and exciting opport...

Recruitment Genius: Project and Quality Manager

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is an independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Sales Executive - OTE £20,625

£14625 - £20625 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This role is for an enthusiasti...

Guru Careers: Financial Controller

£45 - £55k DOE: Guru Careers: A Financial Controller is required to join a suc...

Day In a Page

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Attwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'
Singapore's domestic workers routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals

Singapore's hidden secret of domestic worker abuse

David Cameron was shown the country's shiniest veneer on his tour. What he didn't see was the army of foreign women who are routinely exploited and often abused in the service of rich nationals
Showdown by Shirley Jackson: A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic

Showdown, by Shirley Jackson

A previously unpublished short story from the queen of American Gothic