The U.S. Congress recently approved $40 million in spending on new Microsoft Hololens augmented reality headsets for the U.S. military following user complaints.
So-called Integrated Visual Augmentation Systems (IVAS) are designed to pull data from various sensors and databases to provide real-time updates to troops, as well as combine an augmented reality display with night vision devices.
Leaked report he initially saw Bloomberg (opens in a new tab) noted that headsets built on Microsoft HoloLens technology caused “mission-affecting physical damage” and therefore had little adoption. Several users also complained about the light emitted by the goggles, which would threaten the concealment of soldiers.
U.S. Army IVAS 1.2
Reportedly, Congress turned down the Army’s request to purchase nearly 7,000 headsets worth up to $400 million, instead submitting a budget of about 10% of that amount to be used to develop a newer version dubbed 1.2.
statement about Army (opens in a new tab) notes that in addition to the IVAS 1.1 improvements (which brought better low-light performance) and some software improvements:
“IVAS 1.2 will feature a new chassis that takes into account human systems integration, including physiological impacts identified during testing, and a lower profile head-up display with a distributed counterweight for improved user interface and convenience.”
To date, the tests have involved nearly 100,000 hours of work from over 1,000 participating soldiers.
Despite the apparent faux pas, Bloomberg reported that the Army had already spent $125 million (plus a newly approved $40 million) on version 1.2. The Army said it would continue to work with Microsoft as an IVAS partner and orders for the newer model would be placed “after qualification and operational testing”.
Microsoft recently revealed a number of new features for its HoloLens 2 augmented reality headset, one of which is the addition of its popular Teams video conferencing service.
The update will bring full support for Microsoft Teams tools and features in HoloLens 2, including screen sharing, calendar coordination, and of course, live video calls and meetings.