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Glassing with Permission Only: Next-Generation Binocular Will Make Users Pay to View Private Land

April 1, 2024 - Blog

A consortium of digital mapping firms, A.I. developers, and traditional optics companies today unveiled a new binocular that prevents users from scouting private land unless they subscribe to what they call a “viewshed permission” app. The Private Land Observation Platform (PLOP) allows users to glass public land without constraints. However, private property is veiled behind a digital haze unless users subscribe to mapping software that “unlocks” viewscapes with an annual subscription.

“The PLOP brings together three important trends,” says Valcor Stein, marketing director for Next of Gen Optics, the consortium that is leveraging technology and users’ growing willingness to pay for access. “First, landowners across the country are understanding the value of their viewscapes. They’ve also recognized that hunters and wildlife watchers who observe their private lands are essentially freeloading, enjoying a resource that they neither own nor pay to use. Second, services like Land Trust that provide recreational rentals are a perfect vehicle for monetizing these private viewscapes. And lastly, the integration of digital technology in traditional optics has given us the ability to essentially lock and unlock the ability to view private lands in real time.”

The 10×50 PLOP operates like a traditional roof-prism binocular, with generally good optical resolution and low-light capabilities, although in a field test we did notice some peripheral distortion. Users can glass public lands as they might with a traditional optic. A digital display, tied to GPS-based mapping software, posts land-management details, including the management agency and any hunting or access restrictions.

However, when users pan to the border of private land, a digital haze distorts the image. Users who subscribe to a service called “ClearView” can enter a special code that removes the distortion and allows them to glass private land. The heads-up display details land ownership information, along with real estate listings updated by ranch broker Hall & Hall.

The PLOP is expected to retail for $699. Annual ClearView subscriptions run $99 and users must buy a separate subscription for each state. Next of Gen is expected to incorporate ClearView in spotting scopes, cameras, and even eyeglasses in future product launches.

“The PLOP is really saving the ‘Public Land Hunter’ from temptation, by keeping them from seeing the choice habitat and abundant wildlife on private lands unless they have a ClearView subscription.”

—VALCOR STEIN, NEXT OF GEN OPTICS

Stein noted that the PLOP is the product of both great leaps in digital technology and increasing frustration from landowners, who have observed that strangers who glass their land are the group statistically most likely to trespass.

“The PLOP is really saving the ‘Public Land Hunter’ from temptation, by keeping them from seeing the choice habitat and abundant wildlife on private lands unless they have a ClearView subscription,” he said. “We think our product solves conflicts like corner-crossing by essentially locking out what we call the ‘Lookie-Lou,’ those hunters who would never be tempted to cross a corner because they don’t know what’s on the other side.”

Stein noted that the consortium is working on future models that incorporate A.I. and thermal technology to identify specific species.

“If you’re an elk hunter, for instance, you’ll need to buy the ‘Wapiti Watch’ module in order to locate elk on public land or private land enrolled in our network,” says Stein. “We’re getting a great reception from state fish-and-wildlife agencies who are eager to bundle our species spotters with their permits. Draw an antelope tag, for instance, and you get our ‘Speed GOAT’ locator for a reduced price.”

“The PLOP is a solution in search of a problem,” says Digger Myers of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. “One of the core values of an ethical hunter is to look but don’t touch. It’s an ethic that we’ve borrowed from our partners in the art-gallery and museum business, and we apply it to private land every single day our members are in the field.”

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But Stein says the PLOP is an expression of two of the oldest stories of humanity.

“The first is our ancient tension between supply and demand,” says Stein. “The supply of private viewscapes is too valuable to simply give away, as we have in the past. The second is the old aphorism that good fences make good neighbors. You can really look at both ClearView and PLOP as just another type of fence that will make hunters much better neighbors.”

The post Glassing with Permission Only: Next-Generation Binocular Will Make Users Pay to View Private Land appeared first on Outdoor Life.

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