Microsoft is supplying 120,000 HoloLens headsets to the US military

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Microsoft has won a contract to supply the US military with HoloLens-based headsets. The contract can be worth up to $ 21.88 billion over a 10-year period, and CNBC reports that it concerns the delivery of 120,000 headsets by Microsoft. The software maker has been working closely with the military since 2018, and soldiers have been testing the Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) headsets for the past two years. These devices combine high-resolution night, thermal, and soldier-worn sensors into a heads-up display.

“The system also uses augmented reality and machine learning to enable a lifelike mixed reality training environment so that the Close Combat Force (CCF) can practice before engaging opponents,” reads a statement from the US militaryIn February, the military revealed how a newer, more rugged version of its heads-up display can allow armored vehicle operators to see through the walls of, say, a Bradley Fighting Vehicle. An earlier version was criticized for poor sensor and GPS performance, but you can see the design has changed quite a bit now.

An earlier IVAS prototype.
Image: US Army

The newer IVAS.

Microsoft initially won a $ 479 million contract to supply the US military with a version of its HoloLens augmented reality headset in 2018. It was a move that met fierce resistance from some Microsoft employees, forcing CEO Satya Nadella to resign. respond. However, the calls didn’t stop the US Department of Defense and Microsoft from working on this new headset together.

“Microsoft has worked closely with the US military for the past two years and together we have developed Soldier Centered Design to enable rapid product prototyping to provide Soldiers with the tools and capabilities needed to fulfill their mission,” says Alex Kipman, Microsoft’s HoloLens inventory.

HoloLens hasn’t seen any significant hardware changes since the second version of Microsoft’s mixed reality headset launched in 2019. Microsoft has been gradually improving the software side of its HoloLens headsets, in addition to gesture improvements. Recently, this has been expanded to include Microsoft Mesh, the company’s vision to support what Microsoft calls ‘holoportation’, allowing people to appear as themselves in a virtual space.

As the first wave of augmented reality and similar headsets like the HoloLens, Google Glass and Snapchat Spectacles shifted their business models from end-users to commercial, industrial and military applications, things seem to be heating up in space again. Facebook reportedly has nearly a fifth of its employees working on VR and AR; Apple accused its former hardware boss of specifically monitoring AR and VR; and Samsung, Snap, Qualcomm and others have recently shown more prototypes.