The US military has seen the first deliveries of the specially designed Microsoft Hololens augmented reality headset.
An order for 5,000 headsets, worth approximately $373 million, has been signed by Assistant Acquisitions Secretary Douglas Bush. bloomberg (opens in new tab) Reported after successful field trials (opens in new tab),
The new Integrated Visual Enhancement System (IVAS) units are heavily adapted from existing Hololens 2 headsets previously released by Microsoft, featuring a heads-up display capable of offering high-resolution night, thermal and soldier-borne sensor data. Featuring – All powered by Microsoft Azure cloud services.
Microsoft first revealed news of its deal with the US military in November 2018, when the company secured a $480 million contract to produce 100,000 specialized HoloLens devices.
This was supplemented with a new partnership in March 2021, which could be valued at $21.9 billion for approximately 120,000 units.
At the time, the company said the IVAS device would provide, “a platform that would keep soldiers safe and make them more effective. The program provides situational awareness enabling information sharing and decision making in a variety of situations.”
However, the deal has faced heavy criticism both internally at Microsoft and by the wider world as a whole. The company’s CEO, Satya Nadella, was forced to defend Microsoft’s work with the US military back in February 2019, where he said it “won’t withdraw technology from the institutions we’ve had our freedoms in a democracy.” Chosen to defend”.
The company has also been criticized for its role in winning the controversial $10 billion joint venture defense infrastructure (JEDI) contract to rejuvenate cloud networks at the Pentagon in late 2020, a victory that still faces many legal challenges. encounters.
A final test report is now due for release in October 2022, after which the US military will decide whether to continue its procurement.
The report, released at the beginning of the Army’s fiscal year, would need to be approved by Congress, with House and Senate appropriations panels already proposing a significant reduction in the Army’s request, pending the results of the tests.