(US Army)

Microsoft to supply 120,000 HoloLens-based helmets to the US Army for AR training


Microsoft has won a contract to supply HoloLens-based headsets for the US Army. The contract could potentially reach $ 21.88 billion over 10 years, and CNBC says it will ship about 120,000 headsets from Microsoft.

(US Army)

It is worth saying that the software giant has been working closely with the military since 2018, and the soldiers have been testing Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS) virtual reality headsets for the past two years. These devices combine night vision sensors, high-resolution thermal imagers, and also know how to mark soldiers on a head-up display.

“The system uses augmented reality and machine learning to create a realistic mixed reality learning environment to close combat forces (CCF) could train before engaging in combat with opponents “, The US Army said in a statement. In February, the Army showed how a newer, more rugged version of the head-up display allows armored operators to see through walls, such as the Bradley combat vehicle. The earlier version was criticized for the poor performance of the sensor and GPS, but now the design has improved markedly.

Early prototype headset IVAS (US Army)

Early prototype headset IVAS (US Army)

Originally back in 2018, Microsoft won a $ 479 million contract to supply the US Army with a version of its HoloLens augmented reality headset. The move was met with fierce criticism from some Microsoft employees, prompting CEO Satya Nadella to comment. However, all this did not prevent Microsoft from continuing to cooperate with the US Department of Defense on the creation of a new headset (considering the amount of the contract, it is not surprising).

Microsoft has worked closely with the US Army over the past two years and together we pioneered a soldier-centric design to enable rapid product prototyping and provide soldiers with the tools and capabilities they need to fulfill their mission. “ – said the inventor of Microsoft HoloLens Alex Kipman (Alex Kipman).

Updated version of the headset IVAS (US Army)

Updated version of the headset IVAS (US Army)

HoloLens hasn’t undergone any significant hardware changes since the release of the second version of the mixed reality headset in 2019. Microsoft has been gradually improving the software on HoloLens headsets along with the development of support for gestures. Recently, Microsoft Mesh technology was added – a kind of holographic teleportation that allows people to see each other in virtual space.

(Microsoft)

The initial wave of augmented reality devices and similar headsets like HoloLens, Google Glass and Snapchat Spectacles eventually changed their business models, shifting the focus from casual users to specific industries like commercial applications, industry, military and space. But, perhaps, a new attempt will soon begin to make such devices massive. Almost a fifth of Facebook’s employees are reported to be working on VR and AR technologies; Apple has assigned its former hardware boss to focus exclusively on AR and VR development; and Samsung, Snap, Qualcomm and others have been showing more and more prototypes of such devices lately.

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