Microsoft Wins US Army Contract For Augmented Reality Headsets

Microsoft will supply the US Army with thousands of devices based on its HoloLens augmented reality headset.

The US Army said in a statement that Microsoft will manufacture the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) that will be used both in training and in-theatre operations.

The deal is significant as it is worth up to $21.9 billion over 10 years. Indeed, it makes Redmond a much more prominent technology supplier to the US military, after it was also awarded the Pentagon’s $10bn JEDI cloud contract in late 2019, much to the chagrin of Amazon Web Services.

Augmented reality headset

It is understood that this latest deal will see Microsoft deliver to the US Army more than 120,000 devices based on its HoloLens augmented reality headset.

The US Army said that the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) headsets will deliver “next-generation night vision and situational awareness capabilities to the Close Combat Force (CCF).”

“The IVAS aggregates multiple technologies into an architecture that allows the Soldier to Fight, Rehearse, and Train using a single platform,” said the US Army. “The suite of capabilities leverages existing high-resolution night, thermal, and Soldier-borne sensors integrated into a unified Heads Up Display to provide the improved situational awareness, target engagement, and informed decision-making necessary to achieve overmatch against current and future adversaries.”

“The system also leverages augmented reality and machine learning to enable a life-like mixed reality training environment so the CCF can rehearse before engaging any adversaries,” it added.

Microsoft’s standard-issue HoloLens device costs $3,500, and it allows people to see holograms overlaid over their actual environments and interact using hand and voice gestures.

Microsoft’s HoloLens 2. Microsoft

It is understood the military version would allow solders to see a map and compass overlaid on terrain, as well as incorporate thermal imaging for operations carried out at night.

The system could also show the aim for a weapon platform.

HoloLens tech

“The IVAS headset, based on HoloLens and augmented by Microsoft Azure cloud services, delivers a platform that will keep Soldiers safer and make them more effective,” blogged Alex Kipman.

It should be noted that Kipman is a technical fellow at Microsoft and the person who introduced the HoloLens in 2015.

“The program delivers enhanced situational awareness, enabling information sharing and decision-making in a variety of scenarios,” Kipman wrote.

“Microsoft has worked closely with the US Army over the past two years, and together we pioneered Soldier Centered Design to enable rapid prototyping for a product to provide Soldiers with the tools and capabilities necessary to achieve their mission,” Kipman concluded.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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