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Old Saturday 16th September 2017, 18:42   #1
akahn430
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Binocular Research: New feature for Binoculars?

Hi All. My name is Austin, and I'm a college student majoring in Industrial (product) Design. I am currently working on a Binocular project, specifically for Birding, and would like some feedback on a feature I'm developing for binoculars.

The feature is a removable (to download to computer) audio recorder, located on the underside of the bridge, so it's as close as possible to the user's mouth. The device can also have other technology features, such as GPS location for each audio entry.

I would like to know, 1, if this would be a useful feature, and, 2, what other capabilities/data can the device have to further improve your Birding/Binocular experience.


I appreciate any insight you can offer!

Thank you,
Austin Kahn
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Old Sunday 17th September 2017, 04:54   #2
WJC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by akahn430 View Post
Hi All. My name is Austin, and I'm a college student majoring in Industrial (product) Design. I am currently working on a Binocular project, specifically for Birding, and would like some feedback on a feature I'm developing for binoculars.

The feature is a removable (to download to computer) audio recorder, located on the underside of the bridge, so it's as close as possible to the user's mouth. The device can also have other technology features, such as GPS location for each audio entry.

I would like to know, 1, if this would be a useful feature, and, 2, what other capabilities/data can the device have to further improve your Birding/Binocular experience.

I appreciate any insight you can offer!

Thank you,
Austin Kahn
The more features you have onboard, the more places you have for errors in design, manufacture, and testing to creep in—like problems with heat, humidity, and vibration. These cost the user money and time away from his or her peaceful pastime. Your biggest obstacle is that most seasoned observers know this.

I applaud your concept and initiative! However, you should take a couple of months to investigate more places than online forums. I would recommend starting with the College of Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona. That is one of the two schools known for producing America’s optical geniuses. There are, without a doubt, some brilliant folks in your “Research Triangle.” But, overall the pickens for optics is a little weaker that in Tuscon or Rochester.

With what you’re studying, you have a bright future. But, part of that bright future is to learn to be comfortable hearing things you really don’t want to hear ... and still not give up your pursuit.

On the bright side, some observing enthusiasts have more money than reasoning power and are always willing to spend it on the unreasonable. This was not meant to be a wet blanket on your exuberance! ‘Just a nudge in a slightly more productive direction.

Cheers,

Bill
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Old Sunday 17th September 2017, 05:53   #3
akahn430
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The more features you have onboard, the more places you have for errors in design, manufacture, and testing to creep in—like problems with heat, humidity, and vibration. These cost the user money and time away from his or her peaceful pastime. Your biggest obstacle is that most seasoned observers know this.

I applaud your concept and initiative! However, you should take a couple of months to investigate more places than online forums. I would recommend starting with the College of Optical Sciences at the University of Arizona. That is one of the two schools known for producing America’s optical geniuses. There are, without a doubt, some brilliant folks in your “Research Triangle.” But, overall the pickens for optics is a little weaker that in Tuscon or Rochester.

With what you’re studying, you have a bright future. But, part of that bright future is to learn to be comfortable hearing things you really don’t want to hear ... and still not give up your pursuit.

On the bright side, some observing enthusiasts have more money than reasoning power and are always willing to spend it on the unreasonable. This was not meant to be a wet blanket on your exuberance! ‘Just a nudge in a slightly more productive direction.

Cheers,

Bill

Thanks for the response Bill. I'm focusing more on form and accessories, rather than optics this time around. As you know, improvements in optics would take lots of research and communication with researchers, which isn't the objective of this assignment.

I've been conducting user research and observations for a few weeks now, and am trying to move forward and identify areas of feasible improvements. My thought with the 'separate' device is that it would not interfere at all with the optics, because it would be attached only to the outside of the binoculars.

My post here is meant to collect more data on whether or not binocular users, birders in particular, would prefer an audio/voice recorder rather than the traditional pen and notebook.

I apprecoate your concern about the feasibility of what I have described, and am excited to take on the prompt of creating an improved experience for binocular users, while balancing the factors you've mentioned-- errors in manufacturing, cost, etc.

Don't worry abou 'hurting' my feelings. We get grilled on a daily basis to prepare us for the reality of designing for companies that, understandably, prioritize cost over design.

Thanks again for your comments, and if you have any more insights/thoughts, I'm interested in hearing them.


-Austin
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Old Sunday 17th September 2017, 11:22   #4
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Exclamation

Bill's advice is sound. Apart from KISS! if possible you'd be well advised to seek out the schools of knowledge mentioned. If you want to be a decent designer then a knowledge of the 'guts', limitations, and possibilities of the device /package will serve you well - just as an automotive designer is well served by the science and engineering of the vehicle - Adrian Newey vs Chris Bangle (Bungle! :)

I believe Bill's KISS! advice leads to an unstated divergence:-
The 'Clasical' optical device with traditional well refined ergonomics improving in an evolutionary fashion, and:-
The Diverged Digital Descendant - the all in one amplifying, zooming, recording, interweb connected, all singing, all dancing, scratch yer back, and wipe yer b*m, call yer mum, and let all your friends on Facebook know device!

If you are thinking of tinkering with the former then I would wager that any increased functionality would have to be contained within the confines of the existing package, without affecting performance, reliability or weather proofing - some 'Alpha' instruments seem to be having a fair old tussle with that requirement as it is! Some may accept an unobtrusive 'plug-in' which didn't violate any of the 'prime directives' .....

If you are thinking of the second class of instrument (you will know from your research that the SONY DEV-50 leads the non-area 51 non-military pack there .... or at least you should), then really, anything goes, and the sky (or your imagination is the limit!)

NB. If you are considering the 'Alienware Adaptive Technology' TM and the 'Anti-Troll' TM coatings that I have conceived then you should know that I have Patented and Trademarked them - though they are available for use for somewhat exorbitant licensing and royalty fees!

Good luck!



Chosun
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Old Sunday 17th September 2017, 13:58   #5
Alexis Powell
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My thought is that voice recording is already available using small digital recorders/smart phones/etc. What is the advantage of having the device attached to the binocular itself?

If the primary goal is to allow recording of numbers of birds during surveys, how does your device make that task easier than an electronic or paper tally sheet?

An exciting design would be one that provides novel functionality. When doing counts, it is awkward and inefficient to transcribe voice recordings later, hence part of the reason that tally sheets live on. It might be useful to have voice recognition software to automatically generate tallies from voice recorded sightings.

--AP
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Old Sunday 17th September 2017, 15:17   #6
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There are already several smartphone apps for geotagging voice memos etc.
And apps for registering your bird observations exists.
Not sure if they have a voice interface with speech recognition though, that might be useful.
But I think you have to do proper market research, ask 1000 random birders so that you are not trying to solve a problem that does not exist.

Last edited by Vespobuteo : Sunday 17th September 2017 at 19:58.
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Old Sunday 17th September 2017, 15:19   #7
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My recommendation: Do not attach to the physical binocular. There's enough going on with the weight of the bin, balance point(s), strap, lens guards and clothing.
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Old Sunday 17th September 2017, 16:22   #8
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Binoculars are designed to last for a lifetime, certainly decades. The same cannot be said of electronics.
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Old Sunday 17th September 2017, 16:35   #9
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Jessops cleared out new Minox binoculars at 1/3rd price.
Being a sucker for bargains I bought a few.
The reason they cleared them out is that they have an altimeter/barometer attached, which is tiny and doesn't really affect the binocular.

This altimeter is incredible as it measures a difference in height of 2ft.
The problems are these.
There is no easy source to set the instrument as weather forecasts only give pressure to 1 hPa (millibar), which is about 28ft.
By using 3 nearby airfields I can get down to 14ft setting.
I don't know how accurate airfield barometers are, but Arlanda has one measuring to 1/100 hPa. But one doesn't have access to these.

The other problem is it takes batteries.
When I recently tried one the battery was flat and they are fiddly to install.
If the battery is changed it has to be reset.

In addition the binocular isn't that great anyway.

And they didn't sell, which is why they were remaindered.

Minox do go for odd, such as 13x56, which is a very nice binocular. Not successful, because birdwatchers at least are very conservative.

Then we have the Minolta 8x23 autofocus binocular, which is very impressive. Almost instant autofocus in bright light and pin sharp. But bulky, takes batteries and a step too far for most.

We have the combined printers/fax/copiers etc. But my experience is that they break and are a nuisance.
I had great trouble getting a simple high quality copier only, but got an old Canon new.

Some devices are reliable.
I have a weather station giving Moon rise/set etc. all in one. It has been going non stop for maybe 20 years.
And a Binatone LED clock that has been going for ~45 years.

I think one has to ask oneself.
Will this device sell?
And will sales last?
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Old Sunday 17th September 2017, 16:43   #10
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Hi Austin,

Quote:
Originally Posted by akahn430 View Post
I'm focusing more on form and accessories, rather than optics this time around.
I would think that attaching something to the binocular would only be worthwhile if alignment with the binocular sightline would be beneficial to the function of the accessory such attached.

Whatever the accessory, it might be a good idea to have a look at the STANAG 4694 NATO accessory rail, as it permits accurate, repeatable and quick alignment.

Binoculars are traditionally built to have a long lifespan, while electronic gadgets are quickly made obsolete by better versions, so I'd believe that only a modular design that allows replacement (or removel) of the gadget would stand a chance on the market.

It's worth noting that Zeiss offered a high-end spotting scope with a built-in digital camera a couple of years back, which flopped because it wasn't modular (for valid technological reasons, I'd assume). I presume that means potential buyers are well aware of the gadget lifecycle ...

Regards,

Henning
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Old Monday 18th September 2017, 20:02   #11
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Originally Posted by Vespobuteo View Post
There are already several smartphone apps for geotagging voice memos etc.
And apps for registering your bird observations exists.
Not sure if they have a voice interface with speech recognition though, that might be useful.
But I think you have to do proper market research, ask 1000 random birders so that you are not trying to solve a problem that does not exist.
Hi,

this sounds indeed like something useful - fiddling with the phone while birding is a hassle which leads to stuff being entered later (when a GPS fix is wrong, so position needs to be entered manually) and birds tend to be forgotten.

A light headset with the phone in the pocket and an app which recognizes species and number and adds GPS position might look a bit strange at first but could help a lot.

Joachim
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Old Monday 18th September 2017, 21:22   #12
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Interesting idea - and if I understand you right perhaps you're looking for something which would attach to any existing binocular. If that's the case then perhaps a strap with built in recorder and mic might be one way to go - easy to transfer from one optic to another and if it was small and light enough not too much of a burden.

How you turn it on and off might need some thought - also whether to try and go for some kind of directional mic so that calls might be recorded at the same time as descriptions? Maybe a little ambitious though.

Voice-activated recording and playback hooked up to a Bluetooth speaker - could possibly be of interest in certain situations but it would need to be robust, waterproof and practically indestructible for tropical birding.

The idea of a recording device that I automatically take with me every time I pick up my bins kind of appeals to me - but it would have to be featherweight to catch on I think.

Cheers

Phil
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Old Tuesday 19th September 2017, 06:14   #13
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[quote=Hauksen;3618006]
Binoculars are traditionally built to have a long lifespan, while electronic gadgets are quickly made obsolete by better versions, so I'd believe that only a modular design that allows replacement (or removel) of the gadget would stand a chance on the market.
/QUOTE]

Whatever it is, perhaps it is mounted to the tripod attachment, or just velcro-ed onto the barrels. Something the size of a memory stick, that doesn't in any way interfere with normal operation of a handheld binocular. You're on the right track, but perhaps it doesn't need to be attached to the bin, unless there is a specific advantage to that, such as gps, with elevation, direction aimed, etc. I've seen guides recording birds on the fly on their iPhones during a busy period, by just listing them at a high rate of speed, like dictation, into the phone, in the middle of a hike. It is possible that it is just an app for the phone, and has less of a physical presence....

Bill
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Old Tuesday 19th September 2017, 06:23   #14
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"There is an app for that."

Just to add another data point for your study, it is not something I would be interested in.

One big advantage to entering observations in a smart phone app is no time consuming followup transcriptions are required. The app is online realtime data capture to a database for future manipulation.
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Old Tuesday 19th September 2017, 08:02   #15
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This sounds a bit like Remembird, which I used for a while. It was very good in some ways but also had its problems (most obviously with reliability).
http://www.remembird.com/
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