Microsoft to supply USA soldiers with HoloLens headsets on the battlefield

Yolanda Curtis
November 29, 2018

Microsoft's HoloLens is one of the few, but companies like Google, Apple and Samsung are rumored to be working on their own. The contract is for the supply of augmented reality system prototypes, and could lead to the military purchasing over 100,000 HoloLens AR headsets as part of its Integrated Visual Augmentation System, or IVAS, program.

Uses? The Army plans to use the headsets for combat missions as well as training. Microsoft beat out augmented reality company Magic Leap, among others.

The system should provide remote viewing of weapon sights to enable low risk, rapid target acquisition, perform automated or assisted target acquisition, integrate both thermal and night vision cameras, track soldier vitals such as heart and breathing rates, and detect concussions. "This new work extends our longstanding, trusted relationship with the Department of Defense to this new area", Microsoft told Bloomberg in a statement.

To be exact, the USA military expects HoloLens headsets developed for combat use to include night vision and thermal sensors, as well as the ability to measure troops' vital signs like breathing and "readiness", scan for concussions and offer ear protection, Bloomberg reports.

HoloLens was first announced in January 2015 and is not yet available for the general public, however it can be bought for £2,715 for commercial use. The company a Development Edition of the headset for $3,000 and a Software Suite version for $5,000.

The military has already used HoloLens for training.

Microsoft just won a $480 million contract with the US military. In October, a blog post purportedly written by Microsoft employees urged the company not to bid on a multi-billion dollar USA military cloud contract.

Earlier this year, hundreds of Microsoft workers signed a petition criticizing a contract with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that Microsoft had originally said included some of its AI software. President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith wrote last month that employees with ethical concerns would be allowed to switch projects.

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